Energy generation is a hot topic in the United States. Between discussions about global warming and bringing back certain energy-generation industries, it seems like everyone has an opinion on what we should be using for energy.

But regardless of which side of the fence you stand on, there is no denying that fossil fuels are depleting. Because there is only a set amount of fossil fuels available to us, we’re moving closer and closer to running out of key energy sources. If we don’t consider alternative resources, we may be left without the energy we need to survive.

A “smart grid” is one way we can move towards a more sustainable energy plan. Let’s take a look at what a smart grid is, what it entails and what changes America would need to make to adopt this new plan.

What Is a Smart Grid?

Energy grids are nothing new, but a smart grid takes a new, more sustainable approach to delivering energy to people. With a traditional grid, energy is churned out and delivered in a one-way path to people who need it. Because companies do not need to worry about producing energy, they can send out as much as necessary as long as resources have not been depleted. A traditional grid focuses on the producer, not the consumer.

A smart grid, on the other hand, considers the consumer over the producer. It uses smart meters, computer systems and two-way communication to make energy more favorable to consumers – and to the planet. Smart grids take advantage of technology forms that allow engineers and managers to monitor renewable energy remotely, which provides faster reactions and response times.

However, a smart grid does present some challenges. With a smart grid, consumers would rely on renewable sources of energy, such as windmills. Unlike fossil fuels, producers can’t control when energy is generated. Days with more wind may produce more energy than days with mild weather.

Unfortunately, energy like this can’t be stored until it’s ready to use. The energy needs to be used as soon as it is created, making it difficult to depend entirely on renewable energy sources. But this does mean producers need to better track and plan for energy currents to ensure requirements are filled. This can cut back on the amount of wasted energy.

Despite its challenges, a smart grid is a better way of getting energy to the consumer. Not only does it help the environment, but it also cuts back on costs and allows consumers and producers to better monitor how energy is being used.

Incorporating the Smart Grid

Because smart grids can be a bit less reliable, they need more performance testing to ensure they are running properly. Performance testing for a smart grid includes signal strength, network recovery, functionality and interoperability. Sufficient testing of smart grids can help make the necessary adjustments and changes to better replace the traditional grid.

America has been moving towards a smart grid for years. In fact, Title XII of the Energy Independence and Security Act was passed back in 2007, which was the beginning of the United State’s plans for implementing a smart grid. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to see the true benefits of a smart grid just yet.

It is difficult to say when we will truly have completely renewable energy in the United States, and as politicians change their policies and shift rules and regulations, it becomes even more confusing. However, it is clear that we need to start considering renewable energy forms before it is too late.