A new Japanese consortium of energy and IT interests has been created with the hope of redefining the smart grid into a more flexible and adaptable system, according to PCWorld.
Smart grids are widely seen as crucial for the future of energy as utilities struggle to direct power to the places where it is most needed, as well as to accommodate growing distributed and intermittent generation sources, such as wind and solar.
The Digital Grid Consortium hopes to address this issue by creating smart grid technology that makes use of concepts similar to those seen in telecommunications and the internet. The group wants to make use of electricity "routers" and unique identifiers to directly monitor and control the flow of specific packets of energy.
"This is a mechanism that will allow electricity to be sent out, or transferred back in any direction as required," Rikiya Abe, a Tokyo University professor who serves as representative director of the consortium, told PCWorld. "This is something that doesn't exist in current smart grids, which are only really used to monitor electricity."
The issue is even more important in Japan, where the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant led the government to commit to greater investment in solar power. Some suggested the country might require new buildings to incorporate solar panels in coming years, which would place great strain on a traditional grid.
The PennEnergy Research area keeps regular tabs on evolving smart grid technology.