Smart Grid Primer

by Richard T. Stuebi

If you want to quickly gain a good overview of the smart grid, check out “The Smart Grid: An Introduction”. A slick 48-page wire-ring bound primer developed for the U.S. Department of Energy, one can find several juicy data tidbits, such as:

1. The U.S. power grid consists of 9200 electric generating units connected by 300,000 miles of transmission lines — of which only 668 miles were added since 2000.

2. Between 1988-98, U.S. electricity demand increased by nearly 30%, while transmission capacity grew by only 15%. (What about since then?)

3. In the U.S., there were 41% more outages affecting more than 50,000 customers in the second half of the 1990’s than in the first half of the 1990’s. (Again, what about since then?)

4. The average age of a substation transformer on the U.S. power grid is 42 years — two years more than their expected life span.

5. 10% of all generation assets, and 25% of distribution infrastructure, are required for less than 5% of the hours of the year.

All of this, plus a great picture of Dr. Zachary Smith (the inimitable Jonathan Harris) and the robot from “Lost in Space”. What more could you want?

Richard T. Stuebi is the BP Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement at The Cleveland Foundation, and is also the Founder and President of NextWave Energy, Inc.

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