May 2, 2012Science and Technology
The smart grid gets "smarter" with new automated software

The nation's current electric grid is so backward and inflexible that to integrate more sources of renewable energy ironically requires more power plants. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) are working on a project that would modernize the grid and bring it into the Internet age using automated control software to manage demand in real time. The Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy, or ARPA-E, whose mission is to invest in potentially transformational energy technologies, has awarded $2.865 million to the project. AutoGrid Systems and Columbia University are also partners on the new grid. The anticipated system is an advanced form of “demand response,” a scheme that allows customers to adjust their electricity usage automatically in response to price or other signals. Using demand response allows utilities to reduce their peak loads and thus build fewer power plants.

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