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Sunday, September 27, 2009

What is a Smart Grid?

Perhaps some of you have recently heard the term 'Smart Grid' in the news. This is an idea that many tech and power companies are interested in and working on, and an idea that the federal government is beginning to fund through the American Restructuring and Recovery Act that the Obama administration got through Congress earlier this year. Several billion dollars are designated to begin building and installing Smart Meters around the nation.

The 'Smart' refers to control systems within the power grid, which is the vast comple network that distributes power to all cities, towns and buildings. There is a good deal of wasted energy in the grid, and scientists and engineers are being tasked with designing and building a new distribution system where computers and sensors will determine where energy is needed, where it can be reduced and saved, and what demand is doing in real-time. by being more efficient, less waste will take place, less additional energy needs to be pumped into the grid, and energy costs and greenhouse emissions will be reduced, or so it should be theoretically.

I wanted to mention this on the blog because of the fact that if you have interests in electronics, computer science, and electrical, mechanical, or civil engineering, then there will be many jobs opening up as this project continues to grow over the next five years. New standards for a smart grid were just published by the Dept. of Commerce, and money is beginning to flow into the system to make this work. Keep in mind that a HUGE challenge to make a new grid work, as well as most sectors of life and business continue to work, is cyber security. We will be needing an army of computer scientists to develop secure software and encryption algorithms to keep all aspects of our national and private computer networks safe from hackers and cyber terrorism, which is the second greatest threat I personally believe is out there (with the only exception being a nuclear armed terror organization).

Keep this in mind, because it will be a constant effort being done in your lifetime.

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