The smart grid is coming. Not immediately, but soon. Smart grid deployments are being seen in small, but increasing, numbers in test pilots around the country. What exactly is the smart grid you ask? A smart grid, in the broadest sense according to WIkipedia, “delivers electricity from suppliers to consumers using two-way digital technology to control appliances at consumers’ homes to save energy, reduce cost and increase reliability and transparency.” It is much more than that though and involves a host of players, large and small, including consumers, utilities, governments and the private sector. One of those involved on the backside of smart grid development is microprocessor manufacturer Intel.
Intel, as a large purchaser of renewable energy “and a strategic investor in renewable energy start-up companies,” has a large stake in seeing smart grid technology developed efficiently. It is pushing an “Open Energy Initiative,” among other things, to bring together various groups “around the application of technology and open standards to accelerate the global transition to smart energy.” We recently caught up with Ryan Parker, director of marketing for Intel’s Embedded and Communications Division, to find out what roles his company is playing in smart grid growth.
EarthTechling: What is the classic definition of a smart grid?
Ryan Parker: The Smart grid is the convergence of communication and computing with the electrical grid. Technologies for power generation, distribution and management are converging with embedded computing and data communications devices to drive gains in the availability, predictability and efficiency of electricity distribution.
ET: How is Intel involved in smart grid technology?
Parker: Intel provides products and technologies to the OEMS that are providing equipment to utilities who are evolving their grid. Intel solutions help simplify software consolidation, capture cost savings through remote management and increase system security. The deployment of smart grid based on Intel processors and technologies will help utilities deploy distributed intelligence end-to-end throughout the grid, from distributed generation point such as wind farms through substations to homes, enabling revolutionary improvements in automation and decision making at each link in the chain. Intel also believes that consumers need to be part of the evolution of the grid and have to be empowered to make sure the transition is successful and to that end Intel is developing solutions for home energy management to give home owners real time viewing and control over their energy use.