Energy in the Future series: Smart Grids

A smart grid is an advanced electricity network based on digital technology that enables two-way power distribution between the grid and consumers, real-time monitoring of consumption at every point of the grid, and optimal use of distributed energy generation & storage. There are many key technologies that smart grids can utilise, including distributed generation, energy storage, smart meters, communication infrastructure & smart control systems.


Smart grid technologies have the potential to drive many changes within the industry by addressing energy demand, intensifying competition with other transport modes over grid access and increasing capacity limits. For example, surplus energy generated through regenerative braking can be used to power train stations, which could enhance the economic efficiency of the industry. Smart grid technologies such as sensors and smart meters will allow the rail industry to adapt micromanagement for different stations and rolling stock, hence ensuring better control over electricity use. Tracking the energy consumption of trains would mean that performance issues can be detected if there is any anomalous data received. With the cost of electric road vehicles decreasing through improving technology and a lack of fuel costs, personal transport may see a boost that could shift demand away from public transport. However, there could be synergies between electric vehicles and the rail grid in the form of transferring surplus energy.

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