The Smart Grid and Hurricane Sandy: Challenges Still Ahead
Two years ago, Hurricane Sandy ravaged the eastern seaboard, causing $65 billion worth of damage to homes, infrastructure, and property. In this time of crisis, 8 million Americans were without power. According to the U.S. Government, this would have been a much larger number if smart grid upgrades had not been in place. Pepco, the utility serving much of Washington DC and Maryland, was working overtime to restore power to 130,000 homes in two days after the hurricane hit.
“Thanks to smart meters (two-way meters) installed in 425,000 homes, Pepco was notified by the meters' ‘no power’ signal that allowed it to quickly pinpoint where outages were in the network,” according a blog post from the Smart Grid government agency. “The signals arrived at their central monitoring post, allowing them to respond to customers quickly and effectively.”
This is just one example of how the smart grid is extremely effective in situations such as a natural disaster where access to power is limited to none.
"Such risks are going to persist and we'll see more and more extreme events, more variability will hit our systems and infrastructure," Massoud Amin, an IEEE senior member and a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Minnesota—where he also serves as director of the Technological Leadership Institute—told Intelligent Utility last January. "This brings a wider range of uncertainty to future events. This is both a local challenge and a regional and national opportunity to upgrade and harden the system."
Though the discussion surrounding the smart grid and disaster scenarios is still very much ongoing, one topic that’s being thrown around is how the grid could be upgraded further in order to prevent future blackouts. The biggest problem, however, may be the timeline.
“People have to realize that this is a process,” Stefanie Brand, director of New Jersey Division of the Rate Counsel, told NJ.com. “This is not something that’s going to be fixed overnight. These storms are something that are always going to be problematic. We can’t expect that if we spend ‘X’ amount of money that we’re never going to have outages in these storms again. It’s really a question of just trying to do the best we can to keep those numbers low and to keep our restoration times shorter.”
It’s time to upgrade the smart grid everywhere, but for places that are at risk for extreme weather events, it’s more important than ever. They’re not the only solution to better response, but they’re an absolutely crucial portion.
Hydrostor receives $4m funding for A-CAES facility in Canada
Hydrostor has received $4m funding to develop a 300-500MW Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) facility in Canada.
The funding will be used to complete essential engineering and planning, and enable Hydrostor to plan construction.
The project will be modeled on Hydrostor’s commercially operating Goderich storage facility, providing up to 12 hours of energy storage.
Hydrostor’s A-CAES system supports Canada’s green economic transition by designing, building, and operating emissions-free energy storage facilities, and employing people, suppliers, and technologies from the oil and gas sector.
The Honorable Seamus O’Regan, Jr. Minister of Natural Resources, said: “Investing in clean technology will lower emissions and increase our competitiveness. This is how we get to net zero by 2050.”
A-CAES has the potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions by enabling the transition to a cleaner and more flexible electricity grid. Specifically, the low-impact and cost-effective technology will reduce the use of fossil fuels and will provide reliable and bankable energy storage solutions for utilities and regulators, while integrating renewable energy for sustainable growth.
Curtis VanWalleghem, Hydrostor’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are grateful for the federal government’s support of our long duration energy storage solution that is critical to enabling the clean energy transition. This made-in-Canada solution, with the support of NRCan and Sustainable Development Technology Canada, is ready to be widely deployed within Canada and globally to lower electricity rates and decarbonize the electricity sector."
The Rosamond A-CAES 500MW Project is under advanced development and targeting a 2024 launch. It is designed to turn California’s growing solar and wind resources into on-demand peak capacity while allowing for closure of fossil fuel generating stations.
Hydrostor closed US$37 million (C$49 million) in growth financing in September 2019.