Currently, power grids are very centralized and electricity is produced on demand. This also makes the power grid very susceptible to interruptions due to storms or accidents, or simply excessive demand. Recently, smart grid technologies have been helping to bring some of these problems under control.
We reported to you recently that EPB Chattanooga saved some $1.4 million after a summer storm knocked out some of their power grid. Smart grid technology kept more power flowing to still-functional grid sections, and made repairs to the other parts much easier to facilitate.
Growing Energy Labs, Inc. [GELI] is working on smart grid software that could make it possible to decentralize and stabilize the power grid. The power grid is already slowly becoming decentralized with the advent of private solar and wind installations, but to put this kind of decentralization on a grander scale, more power is needed.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST] took delivery of six GELI “EOS Nodes” for testing in the Net Zero Home Project, which will connect GELI’s software to various battery packs and power converters. NIST’s objective is “to develop and deploy advances in measurement science to move the nation toward net-zero energy, high-performance buildings while maintaining a healthy indoor environment by 2016.”
GELI’s solution is part software, and part electrical storage. The concept began as a reflection of the way the internet developed, rather than a centralized power plant, GELI’s battery systems and software can adapt to electrical supply and demand, as well as problems, much faster than current systems.