Monday, May 04, 2009

May 5 What is the Smart Grid?

We have a great electrical grid in the US but it needs to be better. It is divided into pieces which make electricity sharing difficult from East to West, or to Texas, which is separate. It is demand-based: power plants are synchronized and turned up or down to meet the peak momentary demand. It is fragile, mysterious cascading faults sometimes occur, causing regional blackouts.

It matters to us because we have large sources of hydro power in our region, including the Grand Coulee dam, the 5th largest in the world. We are adding wind, and soon, geothermal.

It will be asked to do more. It needs to be more efficient, including high voltage, long distance DC lines. It needs to manage solar and wind sources, some small, which vary in time. It will feed plug-in hybrid vehicles, which in turn, could contribute back to the grid. It needs to provide detailed information to everyday power users to allow them to make decisions. Finally it will actively manage your appliances, turning them on and off based on supply and more complex billing formulas.

The demand for smart grid technology will be worldwide. That is why inventors are looking at the opportunities. That is tonight's focus.

The Clean Energy Special Interest Group presents An Introduction to the Smart Grid Market.

Panelists include Roger Hicks from Veris on the smart grid and opportunities; John Thornton from Porteon Electric Vehicles on the convergence of vehicles, buildings and electric utilities; and Bill Sproull, from ClearEdge Power on combined fuel cell, heating and cooling systems integrated with the grid. (Note that BPL Global operates in the smart grid software space and has Portland connections. Another resource is Jeff Hammarlund at PSU)

Sponsored by the TiE Oregon Clean Energy SIG Details at the event website.

At 1120 NW Couch Street, Tenth Floor. 6PM-8 $25 advance, $30 door, general. Check the website to become a member.