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Getting Our Grid Report Card

November 4, 2010 - 1:02pm

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We have a 20th century grid that needs to support 21st century energy sources and increasing usage. Want to know how we’re doing it? Or what other experts think?

This week, the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE) is conducting peer reviews for its Smart Grid and Energy Storage programs. The reviews, which are open to the public, invite experts from across the globe to evaluate the performance of OE projects, share best practices and discuss existing and future needs for their industries.

The grid we have today was developed before we had personal computers, and at the time we had no indication of the growing demand for plug-in vehicles and personal solar panels. In turn, the need for increased flexibility on the electric grid has led to the development of “Smart” technologies that increase grid efficiency, adaptability, automation and security. The peer review for OE’s Smart Grid program – taking place in Golden, Colorado – is examining a wide range of projects that research, develop and demonstrate these technologies.

One of the fundamental issues that needs to be addressed in planning for future electricity needs is energy storage. Electricity needs to be used once it is generated because we lack scalable energy storage solutions. So in a clean energy future how do we power our homes if the sun isn’t shining, or the wind isn’t blowing? We need to find a way to save it for later, and that’s the focus of the Energy Storage program. This year’s Energy Storage peer review features projects ranging from the development of storage materials to the demonstration of advanced applications.

As evidenced by the overwhelming turnout at the peer reviews, (there were over 1000 attendees on the first day alone), there is a growing recognition that a modern grid is integral to developing a clean energy economy. The expertise of our industry, lab and academic partners will continue to be a critical force in driving the development of the technologies necessary to build it.

For more information on the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, and our peer reviews, please visit us at http://www.oe.energy.gov.

Andy Oare is a New Media Specialist with the Office of Public Affairs

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