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How Much Would a "Smart Grid" Reduce Carbon? How Much Would a "Smart Grid" Reduce Carbon?
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How Much Would a "Smart Grid" Reduce Carbon?

by Andrew Price

February 4, 2010
There's been lots of talk about building a "smart grid"-a new energy transmission infrastructure that would cut down on wasted energy, reduce the risk of blackouts, allow for better monitoring, and facilitate the development of wind and solar power.But it's been a little unclear what the benefits of a smart grid would actually amount to in quantitative terms. Now we're getting a picture, at least on the pollution front: A smart grid would lower our projected 2030 CO2 emissions by about 18 percent.The chart above shows the nine ways in which a smart grid could reduce emissions and the estimated size of each mechanism's effect on 2030 emissions. It's from a new report called "The Smart Grid: An Estimation of the Energy and CO2 Benefits" (pdf) by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.Obviously it's very hard to predict the size of some of these effects-especially those that are dependent on customer behavior-and the authors admit these numbers could be off by as much as 50 percent. And if these numbers seem low (they do to me) bear in mind: The carbon reduction benefits of a smart grid are in addition to the cash savings.The cost for a smart grid? That's still vauge: "Hundreds of billions."
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How Much Would a "Smart Grid" Reduce Carbon?