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Dramatic improvements in Grid power quality require fundamental changes to the physical layer of the Grid, where our electric power is generated, transported and utilized. The addition of “Smarts” to the Grid is essential; however, while it is a necessary condition, it is insufficient to provide the digital quality power that our loads increasingly demand. The fundamental problem of the Grid is not lack of intelligence, but lack of speed. Bulk power sources are remote from loads, and existing controls are applied to clumsy actuators and switchgear. The Future Grid, described here, requires a minimum penetration of generation coupled through electronics. This can easily be achieved through Grid-connected renewables, ideally highly distributed, with autonomous controls for transient events and centralized regional controls for slower time scales. Partial penetration of fast response generation enables performance which can achieve substantially higher quality of power. An additional requirement for a truly robust Grid is either a very high level of high bandwidth control of sources and loads or high-speed fault-limiting and high-speed valves in the Transmission and Distribution (T&D) system, to contain damage and prevent cascading blackouts.
Date of Conference: 27-29 Sept. 2010