A Global First. UK Transmits Data Via the Electricity Grid
As a global first, information was transmitted through the national electricity grid, thus opening huge opportunities for smart cities and a sustainable future for us all.
Not that long ago, we as a whole, managed to have a larger proportion of the population live in cities rather than in rural areas. And a primordial key for our sustainable future is to have smart grids. In this day and age, efficiency will go the longest in terms of cutting down our CO2 emissions, and as most of us know, cities emit much more greenhouse gasses that their rural counterparts.
And in order to really get our efficiency up, we first need smart, efficient cities. And to have those, we would definitely need smart grids. Smart grids include a variety of operational and energy measures designed to increase energy efficiency and reduce overall consumption and emissions.
Implementing smart grids is a daunting undertaking for many reasons. For starters, these grids need to be connected to millions of people, and when we’re talking about electricity, it’s not something which can be subject to failures or long periods of inactivity. Moreover, many parts of the world have a weak infrastructure, which often times are incompatible with smart technologies. But this new British discovery may be used to great effect here as well since they were able to send information via the electricity grid itself.
The way it works is that the smart grid can send information to any appliance, in any house connected through a smart plug, telling it for example to adjust its energy use. It could, therefore, tell your freezer to increase its temperature slightly when the demand for electricity is high, and then lower it down again when the peak demand has passed. The smart electricity grid can also tell your appliances to use renewable energy when there is more of it (especially during the day).
The whole purpose of the grid is to streamline consumption of energy and make it as efficient as possible, thus putting us on track to curbing climate change and our devastating impact on the environment. The new data system, created using telecoms technology by Reactive Technologies, has been successfully tested already on the British grid.
“The old mindset would be, we need to build more power stations,” Jens Madrian, at RT and former CFO at “big six” utility RWE npower told the Guardian “We disagree with that. There are other ways of managing electricity, one of which is carrying knowledge from the telecommunications and software engineering side into the energy sector.”
RT believes that we should change more than our infrastructure – we should change our mindset as well. We have to realize that at the current point in our development as a whole, we can no longer be wasteful since we already consume much more than the planet can offer sustainably, year after year.
“What is better? Building a Hinkley, which if it goes down you have lost 7% of the national electricity generation, or building up capacity from many hundreds of thousands of smaller devices around the UK? It needs quite a cultural shift: smaller is better, distributed is better.”
As for the grid managers, naturally, they love anything that can make their system more efficient. Cordi O’Hara, at National Grid, said:
“We are keen to support innovative products like this one that can bring a real benefit for customers. It represents another step forward in the development of the smart grid technologies that are going to play an increasingly important role in the energy systems of the future.”