Smart Grids are certainly in vogue with both technologists, politicians, and media alike, but what exactly is the impact of a smart grid on a country’s overall emissions, and what do those savings mean?
GE Energy, a unit of General Electric that addresses utilities, alternative energy and other heavy and light industries, has introduced this graphical representation of what it would be like if the US got smart grids and how much those emissions savings would equal in terms of CO2 in the air. Note the graphs represent pure savings in terms of efficiencies, and presumably does not account for the potential savings in CO2 from the deployment of alternative energy generation – something smart grids enabled, nor, conversely, the emissions that is needed to replace the existing grid.
From a pure savings perspective, GE Energy says that a 1% gain in power grid efficiency would equal a reduction of 52.40 billion pounds of CO2 for the country, which in turn equals taking 4.329 million cars off the road, or having 6.5 million acres of additional trees. A 5% efficiency gain results in emissions savings of 262.1 billion pounds of CO2, or 21.6 million cars off the road and 32.4 million acres of trees.
To put that into perspective, the Amazon rainforest is 1.4 billion acres and annual deforestation was around 5.5 million acres between 2000 to 2005. So even a 1% improvement in efficiency of the US power grid could potentially offset the deforestation that takes place in the Amazon basin every year.
Further comparisons include -
1% US grid efficiency gain (52.4b pounds of CO2 saved) equals:
0.4% of the total US 2007 energy emission (13,208b pounds of CO2) 0.33% of total US 2007 emissions (16,055b pounds of CO2) Taking the top polluting power plant in the US offline (The Scherer plant in Juliet, GA) The total emission for the country of Croatia in 2004
5% US grid efficiency gain (262.1b pounds of CO2 saved) equals:
2% of the total US 2007 energy emission (13,208b pounds of CO2) 1.63% of total US 2007 emissions (16,055b pounds of CO2) Taking the top six most polluting power plants in the US offline The total emission for the country of Pakistan in 2004
Obviously, those gains won’t be instantaneous. Standards need to be developed for smart grids, while the grids themselves need to be upgraded, but no one will deny the benefits.
Category: Smart grids