Post tagged with "weather"

Opower Labs

This neat data algorithm unlocks the power of smart grid technology—without using smart meters

  • By Justin Spradlin, John Vint, and Barry Fischer
  • July 29, 2014

Smart meters continue to transform the global utility landscape, offering cutting-edge features for energy providers and consumers alike — from outage detection to real-time consumption feedback.

In the US alone, the number of installed smart meters has approximately quadrupled over the past 5 years. These meters are collectively generating more than 1 billion usage data points every day — enabling vital data insights for utilities and their customers.

The smart grid is growing fast in other regions, too. European Union member states have collectively invested around 4 billion USD across hundreds of smart grid projects over the past decade. The UK is targeting nationwide smart meter coverage by 2020. And Japan’s largest electric company is working to equip all 27 million of its customers with advanced meters.

As projects like these unfold, smart meters are becoming the industry norm. But some regions are farther ahead than others. The Edison Electric Institute predicts that by 2015, only around half of US states will have smart meter penetration rates higher than 50 percent.

Smart Meter Penetration by 2015

Some states are farther ahead than others with smart meter installations. (Source: IEE Edison Institute, August 2013)

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How electric vehicles could someday eliminate power outages

  • By Barry Fischer
  • October 29, 2012

With Hurricane Sandy fast-approaching and power outages seeming imminent, many families along the Eastern seaboard are hurrying to purchase backup electrical generators. As a result, stores like Home Depot have sold out of generators in New Jersey, and a basic gasoline-powered portable generator sold by recently jumped from 13,478 to 78 on the site’s overall best-selling items list.

As generators fly off the shelves to provide a backup power source for households, an interesting question arises: could electric cars do the same job? Major auto companies like Honda and Toyota think the answer may be yes.

In the aftermath of Japan’s massive 2011 earthquake and the associated power outages, automakers there began to ramp up development of electric vehicle technology that could feed electricity back into a home’s power supply during emergencies.  The idea is that a hybrid gasoline-electric vehicle could draw upon its tankful of gasoline and charged battery to enable a flow of electrons from “vehicle to home,” as the approach is called.

For example, a Toyota Prius acting as a power source would be capable of supplying about 10 kilowatt-hours of backup daily electricity to a home for four days — more than enough to cover basic energy needs like lights, refrigeration, and computer/cell-phone charging.

Stay tuned in the coming months and years about the ongoing research and development into the vehicle-to-home concept — which could someday help mitigate the impact of storms like Hurricane Sandy.

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Smart meters and rebounding from power outages

  • By Barry Fischer
  • October 29, 2012

Communities across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic are bracing themselves for Hurricane Sandy — which is expected to knock out power for 8-10 million utility customers this week.

Experts do suggest, however, that there may be one related piece of good news: communities that have installed smart meters — electrical meters that can enable real-time communication of energy usage data to utility companies — may be able to rebound from the outages more quickly.

Although smart meters (there are now 36 million of them installed nationwide) can’t stop tree limbs from falling and damaging power lines, they can transmit precise information to utility companies about where power has gone out and when it has been fully restored. With this detailed real-time information, utility companies can optimize decisions about where to dispatch repair equipment and line crews.

And beyond reducing the severity of power outages in stormy weather, smart meters can also help prevent them in other situations. For example, when the electric grid is over-stressed by air-conditioning demand on hot days, utility companies can leverage smart-meter data to communicate with and reward customers who are willing to dial back their electricity consumption during peak usage hours.

To learn more about the capabilities of smart meters and their proliferation across the country, see the Edison Foundation’s May 2012 report, “Utility-scale Smart Meter Deployments, Plans, and Proposals.”

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