Going beyond the smart grid


Eric Schmidt,
CEO, Google
Mountain View, CA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — October 6, 2008 – The development of a smart grid is one of the key pillars of an ambitious energy plan for the United States put forward last week by Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

The plan, Clean Energy 2030, claims to offer a potential path to reducing fossil fuel-based electricity generation by 88 percent by replacing it, as well as about half of that from natural gas, with renewable electricity. This would include 380 GW of wind power and 250 GW of solar power.

Other proposals in the plan include deploying aggressive end-use electrical energy efficiency measures to reduce demand by 33 percent, and increasing the sales of plug-in vehicles – both hybrids and pure electric – to 90 percent of new car sales, i.e. 22 million plug-in vehicles, by 2030.

The deployment of a smart electricity grid that empowers consumers and businesses to manage their electricity use more effectively, along with a long-term commitment to energy efficiency by the federal government and states are seen as key to meeting the energy efficiency targets, while public policies supporting the accelerated deployment of fuel-efficient vehicles and investment in the infrastructure necessary to support massive deployment of plug-ins, including charging stations and development of new power management hardware and software, will be required to meet the plug-in vehicle proposals.

“To successfully put millions of plug-in cars on the road and fuel them with green electricity, we need a smart grid that manages when we charge and how we’re billed,” said Google climate experts Dan Reicher and Jeffery Greenblatt in a blog post on the plan last week. “A smart grid could also provide for the two-way flow of electricity, as well as large scale integration of intermittent solar and wind energy.”

Two weeks ago Google and GE announced a partnership to help accelerate the development of the smart grid and support building new transmission lines to harness the nation’s renewable energy resources.
Clean Energy 2030 is calculated to cost no less than $4.4 trillion, but the savings are estimated at $5.4 trillion, providing a net saving of $1 billion over the 22-year life of the project.