Get Smart: Oracle Study Sees Grid Challenges

Demand for power is expected to surge in emerging economies in the coming decades. So encouraging and sustaining greater energy efficiency are prerequisites to the low-carbon 2050 that will save the globe from slow-cooking like a Sunday roast. A sprawling new report, “The Future of Energy,” from tech giant Oracle and the Future Laboratory covers a lot of ground, but the report says development of smart grids lies at the center of meeting the challenge.

The “widely shared objectives of energy security, reduced emissions and continued economic growth are dependent on the development of a smart grid capable of delivering energy efficiency and demand response, as well as integrating renewable and variable sources of energy,” Oracle says in introducing the report.

smart grid, Oracle

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Smart grids that are capable of integrating clean energy sources like solar and wind will allow for using “advance demand-side management tools to encourage load-shifting away from periods of peak demand,” the report says, with smart information systems able to respond in near real-time to enable dynamic pricing, providing customers with real-time differentiated electricity prices. Meanwhile, “making consumer data and dynamic energy rates readily available will encourage development of new business models, fostering competition and altering the competitive landscape,” the report says.

So that’s the good news. But there’s a a big but: The study also sees “a number of vulnerabilities affecting the uptake of the smart grid,” including “lack of investment in consumer awareness and education, the need to ensure end-to-end privacy and security, and no set, common standards.”

The full, 42-page report if available online as a PDF.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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