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You can think of the Smart Grid as a significant upgrade of North America’s decrepit 150-year-old power and electric system.

The Smart Grid, which the U.S. Department of Energy hopes to complete by 2030, is an overhaul of the entire power grid ecosystem from power generators through transmission/distribution to end-user. The focus is to make the entire system smarter, faster, more agile and resilient, and especially more secure.

Advances in technology have allowed engineers to build a power grid to improve on several fronts, including:

  • Being more intelligent — Global energy networks are increasingly evolving, and will continue to do over the coming years, in ways that help to enable a large diversity of energy supply and a more responsive load.
  • Increased sophistication — Analytics, coupled with advanced distributed control schemes, enable adaptive tele-protection and intelligent operational systems to manage inherently unstable systems.
  • Being more automated — Leveraging pervasive sensing the ability to automatically respond to conditions and events beyond traditional protection and controls will become mainstream allowing more refined control of an increasingly diverse and stochastic electric system.
  • Being more transactive — As the Internet of Things (IoT) converges with the electrification of everything, hundreds of millions of energy-smart devices can interact with energy markets, leading to trillions of microtransactions.

Like the internet, the Smart Grid will consist of controls, computers, automation, and new technologies and equipment working together. But in this case, these technologies will work with the electrical grid to respond digitally to changing electric demand.

One of the key pieces to the new Smart Grid is an advanced sensor known as a phasor measurement unit (PMU), a device used to estimate the magnitude and phase angle of an electrical phasor quantity such as voltage or current. A PMU does this in the electricity grid using a common time source for synchronization. Time synchronization is usually provided by GPS and allows synchronized real-time measurements of multiple remote points on the grid.

PMUs are capable of capturing samples from a waveform in quick succession and reconstructing the phasor quantity, made up of an angle measurement and a magnitude measurement.

PMUs can also be used to measure the frequency in the power grid. A typical commercial PMU can report measurements with very high temporal resolution in the order of 30-60 measurements per second.

This helps engineers in analyzing dynamic events in the grid, a process not possible with traditional SCADA measurements that generate one measurement every two or four seconds. Therefore, PMUs equip utilities with enhanced monitoring and control capabilities and are considered to be one of the most important measuring devices in the future of power systems.

Learn more about Smart Grid technology. Tonex offers several Smart Grid training courses.

Additionally, Tonex offers nearly 400 classes, seminars and workshops in close to four dozen categories of systems engineering training.

For more information, questions, comments, contact us.


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