EPRI: Smart grid benefits vastly exceed costs, enable sharp cuts in CO2 by 2030

A new study from the Electric Power Research Institute finds that a “smart grid” would cost up to $475 billion, the total economic and environmental value provided would range between $1.2 and $2 trillion.

Here are two EPRI figures comparing today’s power system to the “energy internet”:

Here’s where we are:


Here’s where we could be:


This can’t happen overnight.  It’s going to take a couple decades to fully overturn such a complicated set of infrastructure. The EPRI report outlines many of the technical and institutional challenges in building an intelligent, two-way grid. But the most important take-away from the report is where that value comes from: Fewer outages, higher system productivity and cost savings to businesses and consumers.

This proves, says EPRI, that “the benefits of the envisioned PDS [power delivery system] significantly outweigh the costs.”

Oh, and on top of all that monetary value, a smarter grid — combined with deployment of cost-effective efficiency and renewable energy — could reduce CO2 emissions in the electricity sector by almost 60% over the next two decades compared to 2005 emissions. Not a bad deal.

So how does EPRI envision the smart grid? Take a look at this neat video on the “Virtual Power Plant” to get a sense of what it could look like:

— Stephen Lacey

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