The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering’s Power and Energy Society General Meeting of 2011 (or IEEE PES GM 2011) recently took place in Detroit, Michigan in the US. Rather aptly for the setting of Motor City and the home of the Big Three American automotive companies (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler), the event was subtitled as “The Electrification of Transportation & The Grid of the Future”.
Thinking Grids was in Detroit to present some exciting research and scope out the latest ideas around smart grids.
Thinking Grids’ artificial intelligence experts carried out some data-mining on the keywords of all papers presented at the conference (roughly a thousand in total),and produced the following tag-cloud (with some help from www.wordle.net). We removed some of the more obvious and less useful keywords (power, system, engineering and energy) for clarity.
With 220 mentions, Wind jumps out as the most popular area of research. This is perhaps unsurprising given the current focus on wind (and renewable) energy integration as part of the Smart Grid, and the complexities associated with installing large variable power sources into a power system. Lots of papers mention Smart as a keyword; again this is unsurprising as ‘smart grid’ is popping up all over the place as a catch all term for new technology. However, with many smart grid specific conferences being held worldwide (almost one every two months), it is a positive sign to see it make such a strong appearance at the premier academic conference on power systems engineering where such a breadth of topics are discussed.
Despite the organiser’s focus on electric vehicle research (including keynote speeches during the opening session), it may be telling that academic community only mentioned the keyword vehicle in 37 out of the 1052 papers. The term was beaten by solar and photovoltaics (combined 58) and storage technologies (55). It is hard to see why the academic community is not focussing harder on tackling difficult problems such as large scale EV (electric vehicle) integration and vehicle to grid storage.
A look at the technologies being discussed reveals that wind is completely dominating the recent research interests:
Drawing any meaningful figures about other smart grid drivers, such as consumer participation in smart grids or efficiency savings, is difficult as these topics are largely driven by policy decisions. Questions such as – ‘How would demand response be implemented?’, ‘How would you pass on smart grid savings to a consumer?’ and ‘What level of automatic network control would be permitted in a smart distribution network?’ – do not lend themselves to academic research. Nevertheless, there is a large body of research pushing smart grid research forward, with a significant focus on wind power.
As future conferences are hosted, Thinking Grids will attempt to provide a similar summary on the major topics of research and new trends emerging from the academic community.