(The Players: SG -- the Smart Grid, and iX -- the infrastructure)
To date, discussions and investment commitments related to the SG have co-mingled the SG and its enabling infrastructure (iX). But, from a business case perspective, they need to be considered separately—they are completely different types of investments.
In the graphic below, we have deconstructed the SG into two separate elements:
(1) the evolving power system iX, and
(2) SG applications that are mostly, but not always, enabled by this iX, and evolve with it
This is the context in which our business cases for SG applications live, and within which we will evaluate them.
Across the top, we show the evolution of power system infrastructure as its ability to support increasing levels of automation is added. It moves from plants (G), wires (T & D), and traditional meters, to plants, wires, and smart meters (AMI) with an ultimate overlay of high-speed, high band-width communications.
Along the bottom, we show the emergence of SG applications separate from, but enabled by, the increasingly sophisticated communications infrastructure of the power system. The advanced Internet Protocol (IP)-based communications system offers the capabilities required to support real-time SG applications, well beyond what is deployed today to support automated meter-reading.
The AMI application can continue to use its current communication systems for a time, provided that it can be configured to support time-of-use and real-time pricing regimes, presumably in a "store-and-forward" mode of operation.
The new definition also makes it possible to implement SG applications that do not involve the use of utility-owned assets.
We might also want to think of a third, and critical, supporting infrastructure that could (should?) be added to the above graphic -- the prerequisite evolution of regulatory and market structures necessary to realize/monetize the value of SG applications. That's a dialog for another day.
This new standardized definition of the SG, as a separate entity from its supporting communications iX, is a keystone deliverable for SGiX. It clarifies how we will think of, and evaluate, SG business cases going forward. Our next dialog, “Building the New SG 2.0 Infrastructure (I) – The Technology”, provides the underlying thinking that led us to this new definition.
We welcome your comments, below.