The Electric Grid Part I: What is it? [video]
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This presentation is the first part of a two-part lecture that will examine today’s electric grid. It will highlight significant events and trends in the electric industry community that over the last 5 decades exerted a compounding influence of growing complexities and uncertainties for our electric institutions, and their infrastructure and its operation. The “smart grid” has become a must for keeping the lights on and electricity prices in check for the early 21st century. The reasons have their roots in trends that started in the 1960s in the electricity industry, largely driven by energy-related public policies responding to changing circumstances in the environment, economics, fuel supplies, technologies and electricity usage practices. By the end of the 20th century, the way in which electric systems were planned, owned, built, operated, regulated, used, and bought and paid for would never be the same. The 21st century electric grid owner, operator, planner and regulator face growing uncertainty, complexity, inadequacy, conflict, and the need for flexibility, robustness, real-time situation awareness, probabilistic forecasting, and rapid response. No longer can the grid planners and owners “build” their way out of these problems using traditional wires, towers and power plants alone. New technologies will be needed to make grid planning, permitting, building, and operating easier and less costly, especially technologies that make the grid smarter. The choice in the late 19th century of the alternating current (AC) electric grid, which was promoted by Westinghouse and Tesla and became the grid of the 20th century (instead of the direct current (DC) grid championed by Edison) was enabled by the emerging electric transformer technology. Similarly, the emergence of electronic technology today, fortuitously about the time the problematic trends began for the 20th century grid, is enabling the the type of smart grid needed for the 21st century.
NPS Defense Energy Seminar, Dr. Merwin Brown