Overcoming Smart Grid Challenges to Realize Key Benefits

Next Generation Communications Blog

Overcoming Smart Grid Challenges to Realize Key Benefits

By Susan Campbell

The ever-increasing demand for energy has created the need for the development of the Smart Grid. This efficient approach to energy management and consumption will change the way we produce, consume and recycle energy. The efficient operation of the Smart Grid will be a long time in coming, however, as many challenges still exist to complete implementation and adoption.

According to a recent Alcatel-Lucent article, Dealing with the Smart Grid’s Key Drivers and Challenges, the future of smart grids includes significant changes to the way we live, work and play. It is expected to impact the business landscape, the energy marketplace and the ways in which we interact both culturally and socially.

In the future smart grids will also enhance control and convenience in the industrialized work, while also enabling positive social progress in developing nations. These benefits are expected to gain traction, but the speed and success will depend greatly on how skillfully energy providers today manage change.

The Smart Grid's challenges demand that we overcome the question of “will we thrive, or merely survive?” The Smart Grid can truly create significant change for both operators and consumers and how well players on both sides anticipate and prepare for those changes will determine the outcome.

One key area of change will be in cultural values. The Smart Grid’s key drivers have always been increased efficiency and reduced reliability on costly resources or offshore supplies. Traditionally, users thought little of their energy use, perhaps paying attention only to the number of lights on in the house or the temperature on the thermostat. In the new culture, we will be in control of how and how much and from where we consume energy.

The Smart Grid will extend beyond the walls of our homes and businesses, reaching out to transportation, communications and other key areas. Exciting and powerful new applications will allow us to fully manage all activities, determining our energy consumption and controlling just how much we rely on the grid itself.

The future of the Smart Grid includes electric vehicles and thousands of renewable generation sources that will add significant management complexity, while also assisting in the migration to peak demand issues, political instability and fluctuating energy prices. With the introduction of partnerships and coalitions, higher value will be extended to both energy operators and consumers.

All stakeholders understanding the opportunities in this space will benefit from the advanced technologies and regional regulatory environments as they create the perfect landscape for new high-potential business models. Those who can understand and effectively address the key drivers for success will benefit the most. The Smart Grid can help support these transformations as long as scalability, reliability and full inclusion for millions of consumers are included.

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