A smart grid is a transactive grid.
- Lynne Kiesling
Smart Grid’s Ultimate Enabler: Smart Markets & Smart Customers

Via Smart Grid News, an interesting article on the key role that smart markets and smart customers will play in energizing the smart grid.  As the report notes:

“…The vocabulary of the Smart Grid is focused on interoperability, but who is assuring operability? That is, where is the market for operability and how will it function? A survey of the Smart Grid landscape reveals that those questions remain conspicuously underconsidered. This might be due to sheer neglect, or perhaps a bold assumption that the market will simply emerge when needed. That approach cannot continue.

For the Smart Grid to meet the various visions attached to it, a vibrant market is needed between supply and demand. This is not currently the case, and has resulted in Smart Grid investment only taking place at a handful of forward-looking utilities (and now by the firehose of federal stimulus spending). But the mutually beneficial exchange between energy supplier and consumer will be the ultimate and sustaining enabler.

As in any market, but particularly in one as complex as electricity, the value derived from that exchange will depend in large part on how the interactions of supply (utilities) and demand (household and commercial customers) are defined and carried out. The process of designing an appropriate marketplace will require an exploration of how these elements overlap, and where the exchanges of information, money and energy are best carried out. To aid in that exploration, my colleagues and I have adopted the paradigm Three Pillars of the Smart Grid:

  1. Smart Customer: The set of technologies that exists or are under development by which electricity consumers will be able to observe, directly control, or allow local intelligent devices to control their electricity consumption.
  2. Smart Utility: The utility that is implementing sophisticated monitoring, digital controls, and locational pricing, as well as reaching out to its customers with programs and plans for “smarter” consumption.
  3. Smart Market: The structure of the market that allows for the integration of the technologies, decision logics, and information at the customer and the utility end to create an economically efficient solution in the new dynamic paradigm that the digital technology has created.

Defining the overlap of these elements will determine the character of the Smart Grid.

As this diagram vividly displays, information is the critical piece at the heart of all three pillars. For the Smart Grid to work, uniform information will allow the customer to evaluate the relative value of the energy being delivered to any end use. But the question remains, what is that information?

The outcome to that question will form the platform on which the Smart Grid develops. It is the Smart Market that will define and provide the market information by which both the Smart Customer and the Smart Utility will find mutually beneficial and economically efficient solutions. specifically, the price, quantity, and control signals by which both the Smart Customer and the Smart Utility will find mutually beneficial and economically efficient solutions.”

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 29th, 2009 at 8:16 am and is filed under Uncategorized.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. 

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About This Blog And Its Authors
Grid Unlocked is powered by two eco-preneurs who analyze and reference articles, reports, and interviews that can help unlock the nascent, complex and expanding linkages between smart meters, smart grids, and above all: smart markets.

Based on decades of experience and interest in conservation, Monty Simus and Jamie Workman believe that a truly “smart” grid must be a “transactive” grid, unshackled from its current status as a so-called “natural monopoly.”

In short, an unlocked grid must adopt and harness the power of markets to incentivize individual users, linked to each other on a large scale, who change consumptive behavior in creative ways that drive efficiency and bring equity to use of the planet's finite and increasingly scarce resources.