Smart grid could reduce U.S. energy consumption by 203 billion kWh by 2030


Palo Alto , CA, U.S.A — (METERING.COM) — January 7, 2009 – The deployment of a “smart grid” could potentially reduce annual U.S. energy consumption by 56 to 203 billion kWh – corresponding to a 1.2 to 4.3 percent reduction in projected retail electricity sales – in 2030, according to a recent analysis by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

The combined deployment of seven applications enabled by a smart grid – continuous commissioning of large commercial buildings, reduced line losses, energy savings corresponding to peak load management, direct feedback on energy usage, accelerated deployment of energy efficiency programs, greater integration of renewables, and facilitation of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) – could reduce CO2 emissions by an estimated 60 to 211 million metric tons in 2030.

In its report EPRI argues that an emerging infrastructure constituted of an integrated set of four building blocks can make energy efficiency more dynamic and robust over time, substantially expanding its potential. These are communications infrastructure to allow bi-directional flow of information between electricity suppliers and consumers, innovative rates and regulation to provide adequate incentives for energy efficiency investments for electricity suppliers and consumers, smart end-use devices that are energy-efficient and able to receive and respond to real time signals, and an innovative market to ensure that energy efficiency measures instituted by regulation become self-sustaining in the marketplace.

However, while these are the key pillars of energy efficiency, the development of a smart grid communications infrastructure has the potential to compound energy savings beyond what is achievable through conventional piecemeal deployments of energy efficiency and demand response measures.

“A smart grid, in essence, can make the energy efficiency benefits of the whole greater than the sum of its parts,” says the report.

The report highlights that from a utility’s perspective, a smart grid can be viewed as a means to further the five primary goals of enhancing customer service, improving operational efficiency, enhancing demand response and load control, transforming customer energy use behavior, and supporting more utility energy efficiency investment. In furthering these goals, a smart grid can streamline operations and enable utilities to tap into new avenues to save energy and reduce carbon emissions to levels greater than would otherwise be attainable.

A smart grid is a key enabler of mechanisms to reduce carbon emissions, both directly through integration of more renewable energy and facilitation of PHEV adoption, and indirectly through energy efficiency, says the report.

“A smart grid will enable tools for everyone – from consumers to energy service providers to regulators – to help bring energy savings and greenhouse gas reduction goals closer to fruition to benefit society.”