ARE THERE TECHNOLOGY GAPS WITH THE SMART GRID INFRASTRUCTURE TECHNOLOGY?
There is still a need for additional innovative technologies that support grid modernization. The International Energy Agency (IEA), in its September 2022 Smart Grids tracking report, offers the following recommendations to private sector companies:
It is not just about expanding the grid: modernisation and digitalisation are as important
Transmission and distribution system operators should continue facilitating the adoption of novel assets, including technical options such as distributed energy resource management systems, edge control devices, advanced voltage and reactive power controls, network digital twins, artificial intelligence, and robots and drones for more efficient operation and management, closed-loop operations, and non-wire alternatives, such as flexibility services and distributed stand-alone storage systems.
Electricity grids rely on resilience and sustainability
Power utilities should develop a forward-looking approach to resilience against future potential hazards, such as extreme weather events, wildfires, and cybersecurity risks. Resiliency roadmaps should include weather-predictive services, fire spread and flood modelling, deployment of sensors and high-definition cameras and other real-time or near real-time situational awareness. Assessing cybersecurity risk is especially important for new manufacturers, vendors, and service providers as they design and implement their devices, systems, and services.
Electricity grid operators should embrace the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by reducing the use of raw materials, adopting alternative sustainable materials in grid components, implementing circular solutions for dismantled grid assets (such as recycling and reusing equipment) and protecting biodiversity. These measures can reduce life cycle environmental footprints and increase safety, especially when critical mineral resources, notably for copper, may become scarce and geographically concentrated. 
For more on these and other needed efforts, access the following IEA September reports here.
For the latest U.S. DOE news on grid modernization, see the Department of Energy’s News webpage, Grid Modernization Initiative (GMI) News.
Updated October 2022, Tina Allen
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