Smart Grid: A Closer Look at Potential and Obstacles - Slide 9

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Smart Grid Obstacle

The fear is that collecting, processing and storing a huge amount of information on the habits of just about every home in America will lead to lapses, and the lapses will lead to abuse. While the dangers of online electrical data aren’t as obvious as e-health data, experts insist that it is a serious matter that demands attention.

Potentially, thieves could read daily energy records and identify homes in which the occupants are likely away. Also, such data, if it is not covered by adequate rules and laws, could be sold to third parties and used for targeted – and unwanted – advertising. That invariably will lead to scams.

The potential for the smart grid to do a host of good things -- cutting energy use, improving the environment, saving homeowners and businesses money, and generating revenue for a wide variety of companies in the telecommunications and IT sectors -- is unquestioned. The smart grid clearly is a winning initiative for society, as well as many companies.

That’s the good news. Just as the potential of the smart grid is an area of almost limitless potential, it also is an area of almost limitless complexity. The initiative, which is no less than to redefine and rework the way the nation supplies power to its homes and businesses, could easily get bogged down in conflicting agendas, governmental inertia and antiquated and legacy thinking.

The sheer breadth of the project – or, more accurately, projects – creates the dangers. Dozens of areas must be addressed, from how information is shepherded back and forth from home to utility, how to best guard the grid against being overwhelmed by demand, and how to enable people to remotely control their energy use. And, of course, there are profound security concerns at each step. Each of these will be areas of competition and, most likely, half-hearted cooperation between vendors.

In this slideshow, we take a look at the key components of the smart grid and the obstacles facing this massive undertaking.

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