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