Interoperability could be biggest Smartgrid challenge, says paper
Many technologies are under development for the Smartgrid, but making diverse portions of the grid architecture interoperable is likely the most significant barrier to the adoption of smart grid technologies, according to a report published March 1 by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School.
"Stakeholder collaboration across all states and territories as well as throughout the development and implementation process is a necessity, writes report author Paul Kominers, who is currently the research director at TurboVote.
The National Institute of Standards in Technology is responsible for coordinating Smartgrid interoperability and measuring degrees of technology openness, or "interchangability."
The paper recommends Smartgrid development center around interchangeable technologies, "to design a system that can easily integrate new and more efficient versions of older devices," writes Kominers.
The biggest inhibitor to smart grid interoperability, however, is the sheer scale of the grid, the large number of stakeholders involved and the lack of standards. Standards are largely an investment problem, writes Kominers.
"The process requires substantial investments in both time and money in order to succeed, and its payoffs will be in averted costs over the following years. However, the sunk costs required are huge enough that traditional industry or market forces are unlikely to join together to successfully invest," says the paper.
Another challenge to interoperable smart grid technology's progress is the fact that a certain number of people need to be using the system in order to encourage development, writes Kominers. For example, accurate peak pricing requires that a critical mass of households send consumption information to utilities. And increased participants increase accuracy, which encourages more firms to engage in accurate peak pricing.
- download the paper, "Interoperability Case Study: The Smart Grid"