Smart grid R&D opportunities


Gaithersburg, MD, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — April 10, 2013 – The transformation of the aging power grid into a modern, “smart” energy distribution network brings with it a host of research and development requirements – as outlined in two new reports from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

These are Strategic R&D Opportunities for the Smart Grid and Technology, Measurement, and Standards Challenges for the Smart Grid, and aim to identify the most important technical issues in the smart grid arena, and prioritize impediments and R&D areas that must be addressed for successful deployment of the smart grid

According to the Opportunities report the smart grid will rely heavily on a central computational system that is tightly linked and coordinated with components in the physical world. Achieving this system requires advances in systems science and engineering that will enable effective design as well as improvements to communication and networking infrastructure. Multidisciplinary R&D efforts will encompass computer science, mathematics, statistics, engineering, and a full spectrum of physical sciences – even extending into ethics, psychology, and a broad array of human factors.

Some of the significant opportunities include the following:

  • Optimizing smart grid capabilities for system planning and operations
  • Developing smart tools and technologies to utilize demand response, load control, and energy efficiency
  • Expanding and upgrading infrastructure to improve communications and interconnectivity
  • Developing infrastructure to assure security and resilience
  • Creating models to foster smart grid investment and inform regulatory frameworks.

The four topical areas covered in the Challenges report are:

  • Integration of large, utility-scale renewable energy onto the grid
  • Integration of distributed generation and energy storage with the grid
  • Energy efficiency, demand response, and load control
  • Efficiency, reliability, security, and stability of the grid

Crosscutting issues such as cybersecurity, privacy of information, industry standards, communications infrastructure, and information infrastructure are also addressed.

The two reports are the product of a workshop held in August 2012 in Boulder, Colorado, involving more than 90 leading technical and industry experts in the smart grid community, and reflect their near-consensus opinions.