Telecom giant Alcatel-Lucent, headquartered in France, has announced that it is teaming up with China's State Grid Information & Telecommunication Company Ltd (SGIT) to help utilities manage peak electricity demand, identify opportunities for power savings and cut down on energy usage. The two companies plan to do this by increasing the intelligence in utilities' power distribution systems, or "smart grids," which allow the continuous measurement, monitoring, control and adjustment of power distribution.
For years, experts have warned that our current grid network will not be able to withstand the demand of our expanding digital culture and growing renewable technology. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), since 1982, peak demand for electricity has exceeded transmission growth by almost 25 percent each year.
What's in a name? Everything when it comes to a carbon dioxide cap-and-trade programme in the US. Energy industry prognosticators saw US adoption as almost inevitable just two years ago following the election of President Obama. Then opponents dubbed the initiative 'cap-and-tax', a moniker that became a death knell in a political climate wary of raising taxes. Cap-and-trade legislation died with neither a bang nor a whimper; but with a slammed door. Meaningful political debate stopped on the federal level, and the words 'greenhouse gases' apparently ceased to be used in Washington, DC.
Its vast geography includes every type of condition favourable to renewable generation, including windswept steppes, areas of high insolation and forestation and significant geothermal regions. Yet that potential remains almost completely unrealised. At the end of 2009 just 13 MW of wind and negligible solar capacity was present in a country with a total installed generation base of 220 GW. And, if large hydropower is excluded from the equation, only around 1% of Russia's power is currently generated from renewables.
Although a host of smart grid pilot projects have now been launched, several issues prevent these programmes from achieving optimal results.
A recent study by Oracle Utilities reveals that organisations in the EMEA region are making progress towards the adoption of smart grids and smart meters. Nonetheless, argues Bastian Fischer, utilities are yet to fully understand or appreciate the potential benefits that the technology can offer for the increased use of renewable energy.
Even though governments throughout the world are vowing to expand green energy, they continue to give far more subsidies to fossil fuels than renewable – 10 to 12 times more, according to recent reports.
The focus on the transition to renewable energy, energy efficiency programs and legislation surrounding these areas is spurring tremendous change in the utility industry. A lot of money and effort are being funneled to the research, development and deployment of clean energy technologies. The federal debate over fuels, technologies and the legislation supporting them has reached a fever pitch.
Europe is looking at legislation to make its existing building stock dramatically more energy efficient as a key element of its plans for a lower carbon energy economy based on a bigger contribution by renewables.