The Zombie Grid lacks a brain

Okay, perhaps that’s a little harsh and our 20th Century grid has served us very well up to this point, but amongst other things the survival of any system, living or inanimate, is dependent on its resilience to environmental changes, shocks or injury.

Historically the power grid has supplied a unidirectional flow of energy.

As such the system is functional but has an important bias. It is ‘supply led’ where additional energy is generated to cope with (often annoyingly unpredictable) peak and seasonal demands.

The system fundamentally lacks an informed awareness of the complex dynamics of demand.

The ‘zombie grid’ lacks a brain.

And we believe this has to change.

The grid as it stands lacks resilience to spikes and short term drops in demand, and the flexibility to incorporate new forms of generation or our fast evolving demand profiles.

Electric Corby CIC envisions the future of the grid to be more a responsive and reflexive energy network founded on connected communities.

Here there is a striking parallel from nature in the resilience and healing capacity of a complex multicellular organism. A resilient energy network that communicates needs, energy consumption and energy generation, much like the individual cells that compose the human body and humans forming communities for mutual benefit.

Energy demands are sensed at the micro level (sockets and switches that make up the customers house or business) like nerve ends. Those signals are monitored by the customer and also continuously transmitted through the Internet of Things as a kind of neural network to a community analysis centre (brain) where data is processed and responses determined

If danger is sensed, or injury happens (a power outage) the responsive grid can effortlessly store, divert or generate energy to supply those areas of a community with demand needs.

The smart grid – it is switched on and thinking.

This new vision of the energy network enables flexibility and accurate management at an individual (building) level and at the community level. This flexible, dynamic network can also tackle the constraints of the current grid and better deal with new forms of (often intermittent) generation.

Critically it presents the community with the opportunity to monetise these efficiencies into dedicated, flexible local energy tariffs – providing residents and businesses with lower total energy costs whilst maximising the contribution of local renewable generation. An incentive to engage when a ‘do the right thing’ message has often failed to gain traction beyond a dedicated few.

We believe that intelligent Demand Side Connected Networks will not only improve grid resilience and energy sustainability but also promote community engagement and economic development.

As such, Electric Corby CIC is committed to Switched On Thinking and has launched YourCommunity.Energy to create a connected community where members benefit from up to 40% reductions in energy costs and Corby benefits from future focused energy system.  That will help Corby to maintain its position as the fastest growing place in the UK outside London whilst embedding sustainability at the heart of that growth.

Electric Corby is participating the Living Grid project lead by the Forum for the Future. The find out more about this fascinating and inspiring approach to future energy systems take a look at Living Grid or #livinggrid

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