Smart Grid

A Smart Grid is also referred to as an “Advanced Metering System” or simply as “AMS”

“An enhancement to the electric grid that allows customers to use more technologically advanced electric meters that provide greater detail and increased control over their electric usage. The system also creates new efficiencies and capabilities for transmission and distribution utilities, such as remote meter-reading and improved storm response.” (AECT)

The benefits associated with a Smart Grid include (from the SmartGrid.gov site):

  • More efficient transmission of electricity
  • Quicker restoration of electricity after power disturbances
  • Reduced operations and management costs for utilities, and ultimately lower power costs for consumers
  • Reduced peak demand, which will also help lower electricity rates
  • Increased integration of large-scale renewable energy systems
  • Better integration of customer-owner power generation systems, including renewable energy systems
  • Improved security

Solar Power Generation

Describes processes that use energy from the sun to create electricity.

From the US Department of Energy:

There are two main types of solar energy technologies:

  1. Photovoltaic (PV); and,
  2. Concentrating Solar Power (CSP).

Photovoltaic (often referred to as “PV”) is utilized in panels. When the sun shines onto a solar panel, photons from the sunlight are absorbed by the cells in the panel, which creates an electric field across the layers and causes electricity to flow.

Concentrating Solar Power (often referred to as “CSP”) – It is used primarily in very large power plants and is not appropriate for residential use. This technology uses mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto receivers that collect solar energy and convert it to heat, which can then be used to produce electricity.  (US Department of Energy)

Solar water heating

“This term comprises various technologies that convert sunlight into renewable energy that heats water using a solar thermal collector.” (PG&E) It is one of the processes solar panels use to produce electricity.

Spinning Reserves

This describes the amount of extra generation capacity not being used at a generating unit or units that can be ramped up within 10 minutes to meet unexpected peaking demand.