UK researchers have successfully transmitted data through the national electricity grid. The success of this trial could be a significant step towards the creation of virtual power stations, where thousands of businesses and homes combine to manage electricity use more smartly. Passing of data through the energy grid is also crucial step towards the success of Internet of Things.
U.K’s transmission of data across the national grid works by systematically modulating the 50Hz signal that carries the electricity. Before this trial, electric wires had been used to transmit information within homes and local network including rows of street light by sending very high-frequency data alongside the 50Hz signals. Though one endeavor that always makes it hard to transmit this data across large areas is the fact that, the signals have to pass through sub-station transformers, which contain an air gap that cannot pass on the high-frequency data. U.K’s technology has utilized a technology developed by Nokia engineers, which inserts the data as small charges in the 50Hz signals itself, which does jump the air gap.
The signal transmitted is a simple one but a sign that it is possible to do so. The signal carry’s updates on peak time, energy prices and regional use patterns. Once the signal is sent, any smart device can make minutes adjustments, for instance lowering the thermostat by a degree or even activate A/C an hour early because prices are low. This technology could lead to lower energy bills for consumers who allow small variations in the energy consumptions for appliances including freezers and heaters.
Reducing energy consumption also results in less wasted energy, and boosts the efficiency of the overall grid. U.K’s government National Infrastructure Commission estimates that a smart virtual grid could save consumers $9.8 billion each year by 2030. Smart power technology will also help reduce reliance on fossil fuel-based generators that are used during peak time.
Reactive Technology, the company behind the equipment and technique, expects its first commercialization within a year and a half and with luck residential deployment should come after that.
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