How Will Smart Grid Technologies Improve Maui’s Energy System?

The Smart Grid is often referred to as “the energy internet.” Interconnected technologies enable two-way communication between different points of the electric power system – consumers, distribution system, storage capacity and generation system. The following diagram illustrates how how the various components of the Maui Smart Grid will work together.

Maui Smart Grid Diagram

 

WHY A SMART GRID?

The Maui Smart Grid Project will evaluate and demonstrate new technologies to help residents better manage and reduce energy consumption during periods of high demand. It will also assist Maui Electric Company (MECO) in adding more renewable energy and in operating the electricity grid more efficiently. The U.S. Department of Energy is funding this project as part of a nationwide set of demonstration projects. MECO and the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) at the University of Hawaii are leading the effort.

WHY DOES MAUI NEED A SMART GRID?

Maui has committed to a new energy system using locally produced renewable energy to displace our heavy reliance on imported oil. This energy future includes electricity from variable renewable energy sources like wind and solar photovoltaics (PV). Maui will need to modernize its electricity grid to balance the demand and supply for electricity. Smart Grid technologies can play a key role in helping this transition. These technologies can also help customers make better informed
energy decisions, improve reliability of the system, and improve the efficiency of the system.

HOW WILL SMART GRID PROJECT TECHNOLOGIES IMPROVE MAUI’S ENERGY SYSTEM?

The Smart Grid is often referred to as “the energy internet”. Interconnected technolo- gies enable two-way communication between different points of the electric power system — consumers, distribution system, storage capacity and generation system.
Among Specific Improvments:

IMPROVING CONSUMER INfORMATION AND CHOICE
• Website and in-home displays show energy use measured by meters

MORE RELIABLE ELECTRICITY SUPPLY
• Meters detect and report outages faster
• Distribution sensors monitor power quality

INCREASE USE Of LOCAL RENEWABLE ENERGY SUPPLIES
• Battery charged with off-peak “curtailed” wind power
• Battery and “demand response” technologies help balance power supplies during emergencies
• PV monitoring helps maintain reliable power supply

IMPROVE EffICIENCY Of ELECTRICITY GRID
• Battery and demand response reduce use of inefficient plants used for “peak” power supply
• Monitoring and distribution management system reduce electricity losses in distribution lines

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