What Are Solar ‘Smart Grids’ for in Texas?
With innovation comes change. In the past couple of years, renewable technologies, such as solar, have become available to the general public.
These technologies allow small businesses and homeowners to generate their own power. This increase in distributed generation has created a problem for the current grid infrastructure.
Utilities now have to compensate for the energy their customers put onto the grid. Finding a fair price and policy that works for everyone is difficult. Many, however, feel that smart grids are the solution to this problem.
What a Smart Grid Is and How It Works
Today, the vision of the smart grid is becoming a reality, but none of this matters if we don’t know what a smart grid is. Knowing the basics of what the smart grid is, and how it works, will allow you to see the full picture.
Basics of the Smart Grid
Currently, electricity gets transmitted through “the grid.” This is a network of equipment that moves electricity from a power plant to your home or business.
A smart grid implements new technology that allows for two-way communication. This adjustment minimizes outage duration by detecting problems and redirecting electricity around it. It also gives customers more control over their energy consumption.
Smart Grid Components
There are four sections within the smart grid. These sections categorize the technology used within the smart grid.
- Generation is where power comes from. Smart grids use all forms of available power supplies to power local, and far off, areas.
- Transmission and distribution is everything involved in the monitoring and distribution of power. Smart grids rely on technology to provide necessary information. This information allows them to meet demands in a timely manner.
- Residential is everything within the home that increases communication. This includes intelligent appliances, smart thermostats and smart meters.
- Commercial/industrial includes all medium to large-scale generation and storage use.
How Distributed Solar Generation Works
Smart grids allow for two-way communication and real-time problem-solving. In a smart grid, distributed generation plays a vital role in its success.
Distributed generation are sources of power near the areas that it is being delivered to. They can supply power for one building or a nearby community.
In a traditional grid system, there is “line loss.” Line loss is when power gets lost while transported. Distributed power, however, avoids much loss of power during travel.
Types of Distributed Generation
Sources of distributed generation are dependent on the energy needs of the area. Distributed generation covers everything from biomass and solid waste incineration to wind. ERCOT requires generation between 1 MW and 10 MW to register.
Residential and commercial solar, however, is still considered distributed generation. This is because, although not deemed large enough by ERCOT, they still put power onto the grid.
Current Application of Smart Meters and Solar Generation in the Texas Smart Grid
The tech used in smart grids is what makes this dream a reality. Texas has joined the world in its implementation of smart grid technology.
The Smart Meter’s Place in the Smart Grid
One of the ways in which Texas has started implementing the smart grid is through smart meters. The smart meter enables two-way communication between the consumer and the supplier. For your electric provider, this means that they can get to the root of power outages at a faster rate.
For the consumer, this gives them more control over their consumption. Smart meters allow them to see what times of day they consume more power. This allows people to determine how best to decrease their power bill.
As with most electronics, smart meters are not always reliable. From time to time, they disconnect, which causes confusion about billing. If you feel that your billing is off, getting an energy audit is the best way to determine if your bill is accurate.
Solar’s Place in Home Generation Systems
People that invest in solar are contributing to the infrastructure of the smart grid. They put their excess power onto the grid during the day and take power off the grid at night. Having a solar array in conjunction with a smart meter allows people even more control.
The ability to see how much power is being taken off and put on the grid, in real time, gives you the option to adjust. Now, before your statement comes in the mail, you can change your habits and avoid a large electric bill.
If you would like even more control, Go Solar Group also offers backup solutions. We have backup options for every situation.