Smart Grids, a Window into the Future??
The word smart makes you think of computers, phones, TV and homes. But a smart grid? Smart grids control energy usage a smart grid is a computerized grid that is managed by computers instead of people. These computers will have access to every valve and every monitor that is connected to the grid. When it realizes that part of the grid is not being used it can turn it off, saving huge amounts of energy. Not just that but it can be used to completely switch our energy sources to renewable instead of coal and oil. Since renewable sources are spread out across the country we will always have energy. If the sun is not shining in Tallahassee then we can harness the waves off the coast of Tampa and trasport some of the energy to Tallahassee using a smart grid. The grid would realize that the sun is not shining in Tallahassee and would search for another source of energy to hook the Tallahassee electric lines to. That is why smart grids are so efective.
One of the big debates over this issue is that if United States implements smart grids “Will they actually save energy?” In August of 2012 the state of Vermont implicated their own state-wide smart grid, so far it has yielded results, the predictions are that over the period of a year Vermont’s emissions will be reduced by fifteen percent! This is without incorporating new levels of renewable energy. The power could be in our grasp to create energy independence, and reduce our countries emissions by sixty percent
Smart grids are complex systems, most of the time complex systems can be good, but the more complicated you make a system the more openings a hacker could have. Since the system would be completely operated by computers, the system could entirely be shut down if a virus gets into the main system. Several other ideas have been floated around, ways to stop this nightmare scenario from happening; one of the ideas is to localize the grids by regions. Like the Pacific Northwest would have their own grid, and the southern are around Georgia would get their own grid as well. Switching like this is hard and risky, but it is also risky if we keep the system the way it is, falling apart piece by piece, the trick is to take the right risks to insure safety to all the people who live here.
One other big problem is money, for the individual project in Vermont it took sixty-nine million dollars to accomplish just switching over the technologies, from a basic system to a computerized one. The money was just for one state and a relatively small one at that. For a state the size of Texas it would take around one thousand nine hundred twenty seven millions of dollars. Right now we are recovering from a recession and don’t have the money to completely change over the grid but we should start in small increments using a combination of federal and state stimulus. In a few years we could start to work our way towards having zero carbon emissions.