One piece of the smart-grid puzzle is home electricity monitoring — allowing homeowners (and eventually business and factory owners) to track their electricity use in real time. As the old saw goes, what gets measured gets done. Simply making people aware of energy flows is the first step to helping them modulate those flows efficiently.
On that note, it’s fantastic to see this: soon, every household in the U.K. will be able to request a smart meter and have it installed for free.
The next step, of course, is giving homeowners more automated control. One part of that is smart, grid-networked appliances that can modulate their electricity use based on current power availability and pricing. Another part is giving homeowners a way to store energy, so they can shift to stored energy at peak hours when electricity prices are higher (assuming variable pricing is put in place) — plug-in hybrids are the low-hanging fruit there. Another is net metering, which would allow homeowners to feed power back into the grid if they’re generating a surplus (through rooftop solar or wind or whatnot).
Anyway, it’s coming together, slowly.