Sunday, July 8, 2012

Massoud and Mother Nature Remind us (again) Why We're Modernizing the Grid

This post is more about energy security than cybersecurity, but what the heck.

The great 2003 outage that spurred the US grid modernization movement is almost ten years in the rear view mirror, and to many it seems like the lessons learned have yet to translate into sufficient action.

In a July 3rd interview, the University of Minnesota's esteemed energy grid guru Dr. Massoud Amin, noting the disproportionate and prolonged (depending on your address) damage caused by recent mid-Atlantic storms, reminds of what needs to be done ... and why.

Speaking of the national grid he says:
This is the kind of system that needs long term, patient investments in research in development, in innovation, and in upgrading the system.
The interviewer continues:
One of the main components in a "smart grid", a term coined by the professor, is the idea of two-way power movement. Conventionally, power has moved in one direction — from the local power plant directly to the consumer. In a smart grid, however, unused electricity would flow out of homes and back into the grid. This system would also allow homes or businesses that are equipped with wind turbines or solar panels to contribute their own power to the grid, which would provide extra security in the case of a blackout.
In some regions this vision still seems like distant science fiction; in others, it's beginning to come to fruition.

You'll find much to like in the 7 minute, 40 second audio segment that includes a little bit of history, a good amount of the present, and a few slices of a possibly better future ... if we take the right actions.

Photo credit: Washington Post (from a few days ago)