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💬 "What the Grid Can Learn from the Internet"

Catalyst with Shayle Kann

Photo by NASA / Unsplash

Host: Lara Pierpoint
Guest: Astrid Atkinson | Co-Founder & CEO | Camus
Category: 💬 Opinion

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[6:23] “There's a pretty widely held view of the potential of a future grid that has a really significant role for customers, and not just as meters but as active participants who might be part of a two way system. But then there's also a lot of questions about whether or not the grid that we have or the management that we have for the grid is capable of providing that. […] How do we get from the physical infrastructure that we have today, which many will note as one of the most complicated machines ever built by humans to that dynamic two way grid in a pretty short timeframe? And in a way that takes advantage of existing resources to really enable a much more rapid pace of change.”

[7:27] “There's […] this […] standard list of four or five types [of DERs (distributed energy resources)]. There's solar, there's battery, whether that's utility, or behind the meter, there's EVs, there's various classes of smart customer devices, such as thermostats, or hot water heaters. But there's also a pretty large category of ones that people don't think about whenever they think about DERs. And this is all the stuff that's in the kind of commercial and industrial type space, things like large scale refrigeration, things like large scale fleet EV charging, heat loads for buildings are often controllable.”

[12:23] “Many people have Nest thermostats, very few participate in programs where they're actually getting paid to do anything on the grid. And so figuring out ways to bridge that gap from […] the intention of being able to be grid supporting with all of these devices, to ways to make that really happen in terms of the incentives that are out there, the ability to signal, the ability to actually integrate them into the operational and economic landscape of the grid. That's a really big gap today.”

[16:22] “Very few utilities have great data on what's happening with the solar generation within their territory, for example. Most utilities don't directly meter that so they can't really tell exactly what's happening with rooftop solar. They also typically won't have very good access to information about the activity of any DERs. There's not a great way to get that into utilities as it stands today, either, because you'd have to connect directly to the devices or have some other source of direct information about what's happening on the customer side. And most utilities don't have that. And most don't have data or software systems that can handle it either. And that's a really big gap in terms of how we're managing the grid today.”

[20:29] “If you think about how much data do you collect from a million meters every day? If you collect data, every 15 minutes from each of those meters, that's 96 million data points in a day. That sounds like a lot. But for […] monitoring systems like Google to keep track of Google's systems that conduct searches, and manage YouTube traffic, and provide maps and all these things, if you look at search alone, publicly available stats on the number of searches per day are 5.6 billion. If you're touching 100 computers for every search, which is probably a low estimate by quite a bit, and you're keeping 10 data points for every interaction, […] that's something like 5.6 trillion data points per day. And again, that's a really, really low end estimate. And so the size and complexity and sophistication of the data handling systems that you use for understanding what's happening in a system like that, and making sure that it's working the way it's supposed to are just quite different than the predecessors, which are still kind of state of the art and the utility space.

[32:25] “Net metering is an incentive structure that basically pays people money in order for them to install local solar on their rooftops and generate energy. […] But it doesn't necessarily extend to any other kinds of distributed energy resources that people install today. And there's not really very good standard mechanisms for doing that.“

[36:29] “It's never gonna make sense to […] contact a human […] and [say] the price of electricity today is 13.5 cents a kilowatt hour, yesterday it was 13.25 cents a kilowatt hour. So you should really go ahead and […] adjust all of your devices to take advantage of that. That is absolutely a job for computers. “

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify | Google
🕰️ 1 hr 2 min | 🗓️ 03/11/2022
✅ Time saved: 1 hr

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