Technical Article

Energy Usage at the Intersection of Smart Grid Infrastructure and Power

October 10, 2021 by Anushree Ramanath

Read on to learn about the benefits of transitioning to IoT-based smart grid technology and its effect on energy usage.

Smart grid architecture enhances the capacity and flexibility of the network while providing both advanced sensing and control through modern communication technologies. Smart grids can mitigate the effects of natural disasters on a power station and the impact of man-made disasters like terrorist attacks. This is possible due to decentralized energy generation, which is robust and has scope for backing up with multiple alternative sources. It also allows for the monitoring of renewable energy sources and equipment.


IoT-Enabled Smart Grid Benefits

The smart infrastructure system is the energy, information, and communication infrastructure underlying the smart grid [1]. It facilitates the two-way flow of electricity and information. There are numerous benefits of smart grids as compared to the conventional grid. Traditional energy grids are designed to transmit electricity from a large, centralized power station to a wide network of homes and businesses in the area [2]. They are not designed to accept inputs from homes and businesses that generate power via solar panels or windmills. However, the smart grid is designed to accept power from renewable energy resources. A sample vision for a smart grid is shown in Figure 1.


Figure 1. Vision for smart grid. Image used courtesy of Telit


Smart meters help in providing better billing and better predictions. Efficient billing increases the incentives for consumers who use electricity responsibly. Wireless IoT devices help in collecting tremendous amounts of data that help in forecasting electricity demands. Power outages cost billions of dollars to solve and compensate for the losses incurred. With the support of smart grid technology, power can be rerouted as soon as a blackout happens, thus minimizing the impact on households and businesses. IoT sensors can be used to report the condition of the equipment so that repairs and maintenance can be made before the actual component or system failure. In addition, utilities will gain the ability to notify their customers when there is an outage instead of reactively responding to the customer calls reporting outages.


The Benefits of IoT Monitoring and Regulation

The conventional power grids are not designed to withstand the immense draw on resources and the need to transmit data to billions of people across the globe [3]. This necessitates making the grid smarter. A smart grid can detect spikes in energy and equipment failure while preventing power outages and routing power to those in need instantaneously.

Smart grid will enable “smarter” usage of energy. It will help reduce energy consumption and the associated costs that incur usage and the maintenance of data. An illustration of the same can be intelligent lighting through smart city technology. It will monitor the energy usage across different areas, immediately adapt to settings like rain or fog, and adjust the output to meet the time of day or the traffic conditions while detecting and addressing the lighting outages instantly.

Smart grid technologies also enable cleaner energy use by integrating green technology into their IoT-based smart management to enable more sustainable solutions. This also includes the adaptation of optimized wind turbines, solar cells, and feeder automation systems that have the potential to benefit all levels of the distribution chain [3]. The older grids find it hard to keep up with the increasing demands and may lead to power outages or interruptions that cause a hefty price. Smart grids help lower costs using smart energy IoT monitoring and source rerouting as soon as a power failure is detected. The smart sensors enable data collection for the smart grid and can be extended to support real-time data gathering that can lead to improved transportation practices, reliable parking solutions, and, thus, structural enhancements to the city landscape.

Smart cities also contribute toward enhancing efficiency and reducing the costs incurred during the implementation of waste and water management solutions. Cloud-based analytics, smart energy analytics, and real-time data tracking support better tracking, monitoring, and regulating of different resources. Smart grids also play a crucial role in energy enablement in developing countries as they could be used to get electricity to sparsely populated areas by enabling a transition from one-off approaches to electrification.  Customized technology and enhanced data collection can help to improve the standard of living. These form the key benefits of IoT-enabled smart grid solutions. Simply stated, when smart grid technologies are fully integrated, they have the potential to change the way we work, play, and interact with the world around us [3].


Key references:

1. Dombrovskyi et. al., Internet of Things for Smart Energy Grid, 2019

2. What Is the Smart Grid and How Is It Enabled by IoT?

3. Building the Smart Grid: IoT in Energy Management and Monitoring


Feature image used courtesy of Telit