I have been reflecting for a while on the similarities between telecommunications and power distribution, especially in regard to the huge benefits to efficiency that result from buffering in networks (store and forward), like what happened when the 8250 and 16550(A) chipsets were introduced to telecommunications.

Multiple layers of storage, be they at the premises, or low voltage and high voltage parts of the power network, will bring similar efficiency benefits as a result of being able to 'store and forward' electrical energy, even if like the original UARTs, it is only a small amount of data (power) for a small amount of time.  

The technology race is on to change the grid from its current one-way broadcast mode, which is like 'Simplex Telecommunications' or even 'synchronous', to something that more resembles 'half duplex' or maybe 'asynchronous'.

The layout or topology of storage (buffering) will be crucial, as will the introduction of skilled power engineers who have a broader range of information technology and telecommunications skills.

Conceptually, the grid is moving from analogue to digital with the charge or discharge of kWh to and from batteries being like 'data packets' that can be stored and forwarded and therefore requiring Dynamic Layer Management . . . sounding like the early days of IT already.

Classic network and queueing theory applies, which in terms of a power grid is kind of like a telco network in slow motion; Samuel Morse and his merry band of telegraph operators, who were in effect store and forwarding (like a battery), would be very proud!

Post script

Just out of interest, the concepts of improving network efficiency with store and forwarding asynchronous messages, as well as the use of physical batteries, were already well understood and developed in 1870 - we stand on the shoulders of giants

This article was first published on Andrew's LinkedIn page. 

A profile of Andrew appeared in Talking Energy in December, 2014.

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