As the current generation of power grids approach the end of their useful life, public and privateinstitutions are calling for the construction of new grids--a Smart Grid that incorporates newtechnologies to allow for affordable and efficient power supply and the integration of powergenerated from renewable energy sources. The vision of the Smart Grid, as defined by the U.S.Department of Energy in its Grid 2030 vision, is "a 21st century electric system that connectseveryone to abundant, affordable, clean, efficient, and reliable electric power anytime, anywhere."Meeting the many and varied expectations for Smart Grids in the next ten years will mean thedevelopment of new kinds of cable, cable dielectrics, power electronics, cable insulators, andenergy storage devices. For this to happen, Smart Grids will have to utilize a variety of newmaterials ranging from gallium nitride to superconductors to carbon nanotubes. The task is evenmore urgent given that, according to many observers, investment in electricity grids has lagged inthe U.S. and other nations, creating an urgency to upgrade.Thus the opportunity being discussed here is more than just a response to what may be just hype;all the fuss over Smart Grids, some of which may be more politically motivated than motivated byreal needs. As a result of both genuine needs and the massive capital expenditures that areexpected to be made on Smart Grids in the next decade (especially in the U.S.), NanoMarketsexpects to see unparalleled opportunities for manufacturers of advanced materials and specializedpower devices and cables. These will help enable new grid architectures as well as enhance powersystem control and reliability, improve power quality and equipment lifetimes, and reduce costs.
Advanced Materials and Smart Grid Technologies
Advances in material science have always been applied to the grid conceptually, but havehistorically not had much impact on grid development. A couple of decades ago, for example,superconductors were touted as likely to change the face of grid technology, but they didn't live upto their promise. It is often noted in the industry that Thomas Edison would have felt quite athome with today's grid technology and materials. And it is almost certainly the case that most