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Smart Grids : Short to Mid-Term Challenges

A lot has been written/discussed about Smart Grid in different forums. What is interesting is that the definition and thus benefits and challenges of the Smart Grid has been extremely contextual & subjective. Customer Enablement, Customer Education, Self Healing Grids..... the list can go on if we want to list the said objectives of the Smart Grids, and each one of these has its own unique challenges.
All of these objectives can be categorized under following titles:
1. Grid Reliability
2. Quality of Service
3. Operational Efficiency
4. Energy Efficiency
5. Reduced dependency on the fossil fuel
In order to fully realize these objective the following systems are being or planned to be deployed:
1. AMI
2. DER
3. Renewable
4. Distribution Automation
With each of these systems will come with their own challenges.
AMI has already started to see issues like Network Latency, Data Quality, and Communication Blackouts etc. Some of these issues may even de-rail the Smart Grid implementation plan if the solution are not found in time.
Similarly DER and Renewable Integration in particular with PV, PHEV and Battery Storage integration will pose following major challenges:
1. Power Quality Issues (particularly Voltage and Frequency)
2. Dynamic Load Models
3. Load Estimation and Forecast (with ever changing load patterns)
4. Intermittency of the Supply
5. New & Intelligent devices and Systems
6. New Tariffs and Rate Structures
These challenges need immediate attention and needs to be considered (are being considered) before embarking on to the design of the systems and implementation plans. These issues are directly related to the main objectives of the Smart Grid which are Increased Reliability and Increased Operational Efficiency.
Similarly new & intelligent devices and systems are being deployed in the name of smart grid for which neither training nor experience is present. Hence creating the righ workforce to cater to the need of Smarter Grids is something that needs immediate attention.
While planning for next steps in smart grid implementation and designing systems, these challenges need to be very carefully analyzed so that we don't reach the point of no return in the mid-term future

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