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How Utilities Can Balance Renewable Energy Sources in Electrical Grids

Countries worldwide have the potential to generate huge levels of renewable energy. In the United States alone, 30 states and the District of Colombia have Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) that require a minimum share of energy to be from renewable sources.

But generating and storing renewable energy sources can be difficult. And as fossil fuels dwindle and proposals to establish a national RPS gather, grids need to incorporate new technology and new strategies to meet renewable energy demands. Here are three strategies electricity providers can use to balance renewable energy sources in their grids.

3 Strategies to Balance Renewable Energy Sources on Electrical Grids

1. Respond to Current Conditions in Real-Time with IoT Technology

Maximizing power generated and supplied from renewable sources is challenging because of how conditions like weather affect renewable energy. On cloudy days, solar power can drop by 75 percent on calm days wind power can stop completely.

Knowing when to focus on power supplied from renewable sources and when to switch to other more sources is crucial to ensuring cheap and reliable power. Implementing IoT technology to gather a real-time view of forecasts can help electricity providers make decisions on how to allocate power quickly to benefit the grid and customers.

2. Store Energy More Efficiently with Improved Batteries

It’s not just generating energy that can be difficult. When conditions are good power can far exceed demand, so many providers also need ways to store excess power for use when demand is high.

There are a number of strategies electricity providers can utilize, such as improved storage options like hydroelectric and compressed air electric storage. They can also use improved batteries such as electrochemical flow batteries and superconducting magnetic energy storage (SMES). These batteries can be connected to electrical grids and IoT systems that make it easier to control energy storage and release to meet demand.

3. Enhance Long-Distance Transmission with Better Data and Technology

The final issue with renewable energy power is the disparity in distance between where energy is created, often in the north and midwest, and where it is needed most: the west and east coasts. Long-distance transmission technology remains stuck in the past with the preferred method still high-voltage DC current. This leads to costly AC-DC-AC conversions and high resistance levels.

One way to resolve this may be to incorporate more superconducting DC lines that operate at zero resistance. But that doesn’t solve the problem of identifying where most of the energy is stored and the quickest way to transfer it to where it is needed. Here, data needs to be made more current and more accessible so that grid operators can make real-time decisions that save power and money. An IoT-powered system that connects power grids to renewable energy farms could be one way to provide the necessary real-time information on storage and generation levels.

Renewable Energy Sources will Become Increasingly Important for Utilities

As renewable energy sources increase and become more efficient, it will be even more important for utility companies to incorporate them into their grids. Smart grids with IoT technology are a good place to start, as they provide real-time information and can help companies respond to different weather conditions. How are you balancing power demands with traditional and renewable energy sources?

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Case Study: IoT is redefining the customer experience. Nokia case study.

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