As a civilization, we need better energy distribution systems if we are to continue to progress and defend against climate change. But up until now, radically transforming the energy network was out of reach. Today, however, we finally have digital technology and smart learning algorithms to make it happen, and not a moment too soon.
The need for the smart grid is enormous, thanks to the numerous disruptive technologies coming down the pike over the next decade. Take electric cars, for instance. Currently, motor vehicles use around 20 percent of the total energy requirements of our society, but they get that energy through the oil and petroleum industries, both of which are mostly separate from electricity generation. However, as people transition to electric vehicles over the next twenty years or so, there will be a dramatic uptick in energy demand. Large providers will need to find ways of satisfying this demand without overloading existing infrastructure.
Energy providers also need to find ways of making the grid more resilient. As Hurricane Sandy made clear, even in places like the East Coast, providers are unprepared for the full force of nature, leading to widespread blackouts and enormous economic costs for all involved.
The following infographic shows how the smart grid will transform energy generation in our societies and why we need it. It shows how a combination of machine learning and automation technologies are enabling real-time distribution and individual sellers to buy and sell from the grid as a whole as well as managing their energy needs.
Infographic by University of California – Riverside