Another buzzword, which nobody knew a short while ago?
Not necessarily: Smart grid designates a young solution approach to the old problem providing energy meeting demands and dissipation.
In earlier times, power plants were erected where the principal customers resided. Today, and regarding the turn towards renewable energy sources – mainly water, wind, and sun – this is not that easy any longer, for sun- wind- and water-power are linked to their respective potential sites.
But there is even more to that: Not only energy needs often exist at locations, where renewable energy is not available, but the renewables are not constantly available over arbitrary long durations.
This requires transportation of energy. And furthermore, energy buffers need to be created to balance fluctuations, which occur during generation as well as during consumption.
Both shall be accomplished by “Smart Grids”. But our current infrastructure is not sufficiently mature yet. Three shortcomings are in the way:
- Reliable information concerning the performance of energy sources are missing.
- Reliable information concerning the energy needs and their variation are missing.
- Storage sites to balance surplus energy for demand peaks are missing. Besides those energy related problems, there is a further challenge with respect to smart grids: To serve its purpose, such grid has to perform dependently. This includes the requirement to be immune with respect to probable cyber-attacks. But this requirement cannot be sufficiently met with currently available computer hardware. Mark Elsberg wrote his book “Blackout” about this fact.
- To overcome bottlenecks 1 and 2, it requires the organization of a data net in parallel to the energy grid. Ideally, every source and every sink is linked to each of these networks, supplying current and predicted yields or needs into the data net. The third bottleneck still needs to be overcome, but this requires energy conversions, which cause losses in accordance with their respective degree of efficiency. They also link the grids of the used energy carriers, so they need to be participants in the smart grid as well – at least as far as they are used to balance energy provision and demands. Different approaches exist for buffering purposes, but a really satisfying procedure still needs to be found.
Currently employed digital programmable devices are built in accordance with architectures, which store programs and data into the same memory, without distinct technical separation between them. This flaw provides a number of means to foist data on memory, which really are programs. Anti-virus-software only offers insufficient protection with this regard.
A new hardware architecture, developed in Germany hinders the feared effects of hacker attacks. Still it is possible to place malware, however, the new architecture technically hinders to execute files, which are not explicitly loaded as instructions to control processors. This architecture does not need identification of malware, and therefore it protects the system even against future malware.
Software adaptations as required for this new architectures are specified. The architecture is protected by patents. IT-security „Made in Germany“. The perfect choice for smart grids!