Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thomas Friedman, The need for a greener world and some latest developments (II)

Second development I was interested on touching base is what Mr. Friedman describes as the Smart Black Box, or basically the devices capable of managing the smart grid on private houses. The way it is described on the book it makes you believe we are talking about a science fiction movie, but the reality is that the technology, companies and users are already here. What we need is just some regulatory push and a clear push on objectives settings by companies. The market and the users will do the rest

Smart grids is composed of those communications technologies that increase the level of efficiency to allow operators to balance supply and demand across the network. The intrinsic intermittent nature of  renewable energy sources , such as wind power makes this development key for the future of such energies. Furthermore so called "advanced" smart grids will allow electricity companies some control over customers’ appliances, for instance by turning on washing machines at night when electricity was cheaper and wind plentiful, or turning down fridges at times of high demand.

The beauty of this concept is that it is here and now. Reading the FT on August 10th, on the online comments section we read a description of how the EU smart grids are developing (from Masa Serdarevich). This include:
  • the EU setting a target to have 80% of the household with smart meters by 2020. 
  • To move from today's EU installed based of 53m meters to more than 200m by the end of the decade
  • To the development of different companies competing for this market,
  • How already in Italy Enel together with california based company Echelon has already implemented 27m units!!! and it is on the making to launch a project in Spain for another 13m roll out. 
Optimistic? Maybe but clearly moving into the right direction.
One more sign for optimism and in the right direction? We can read on the online edition of the FT on July 26th how "...Ofgem is to change its rules to make it easier for energy companies to raise from customers the £32bn needed to help modernise the electricity grid, in an abrupt reversal of the principles of post-privatisation regulation"
The UK is clearly of the European countries far behind so time to react 

Link to FT online edition news on Ofgem smart grid decision

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