Wednesday, March 9, 2011

“Electric” keynote address by Kurt Yeager on transforming the grid for the 21st century

Speaking at the REW/PVW Conference & Expo (Tampa, FL, 3/8-3/10/11), Kurt Yeager, executive director of the Galvin Electricity Institute, called for a transformation of the nation’s electrical grid. “The obsolescence of our electricity system costs the country $1T/year,” said Yeager. “The average consumer in the U.S. is out of power 4hrs/year.” By comparison, Singapore’s figure is measured in seconds/year.

To enable the future, Yeager calls for integrating the grids, and diverse generation and storage resources, into a smart self-healing grid. The solution, he noted, calls for intelligent technology, intelligent policy, and empowered consumers. Key to empowered consumers is the smart meter – but it really has to be “smart.” Such meters have to provide data to the consumers, not just the utility company. Yeager referred to a user-centric view that requires the emergence of a synchronous “enernet” – something akin to the internet.

Yeager defines a smart grid as a transformative network, seamlessly connecting producers and consumers. It also needs price-responsive end-use devices that enable autonomous consumer control (i.e., empowered consumers). Yeager further calls for the nation to look beyond the regulated monopoly business model. “Remove the barriers to competitive retail services,” he said.

Another component to Yeager’s energy view is converting buildings from "power pigs to power plants." There are so many losses in the conventional industrial building, for example, just due to conversions back and forth between AC and DC he observed. (Debra Vogler)

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