By Paolo Cisneros | LiCore AC

Imagine living in Mexico City and having to travel to New York City on business.

Now imagine having to do it using late 19th Century transportation infrastructure.

Instead of a five hour flight, you’re suddenly faced with primitive roads, inflexible rail schedules, glacial travel speeds and lengthy stopovers on your trip across the continent.

Thankfully, today’s travelers don’t have to deal with these hurdles. Regular investments in transportation infrastructure have allowed our global networks of airports, interstate highways and public transit systems to keep pace with technological advances and the needs of the societies they serve.

This strategy of modernizing infrastructure might seem like common sense, but it hasn’t been applied to every system we rely on to live our modern lives. For example, when it comes to generating and delivering electricity, most countries still rely on severely outdated technology. The result: a worsening climate crisis and squandered economic potential.

But all hope is not lost. An emerging set of technologies known as smart grids offer societies a means by which to update their electricity infrastructure and chart a cleaner, more equitable path into the 21st Century.

What are smart grids?

Let’s back up a second.

When someone refers to “the electrical grid,” they’re talking about the network of technologies that allow electricity producers to deliver power to consumers. Even in 2018, most countries still rely on grids that were designed only to transport energy from coal-fired plants to homes and businesses within their service range. It was a simple, one-way transaction from producer to consumer.

While this set-up met the needs of societies in which electricity consumption was fairly modest (think incandescent lights and radios), it leaves much to be desired in an age in which energy consumption varies wildly from user to user (e.g. data centers versus studio apartments). It also fails to account for the fact that regular people can now serve as energy producers rather than just consumers through investments such as rooftop solar panels.

This is where smart grids come in. The term refers to an evolving set of technologies that work in conjunction to allow for two-way communication between electricity producers and consumers. This new world enables utilities to more effectively respond to their customers’ energy needs while also allowing citizens to sell energy back to the grid, knowledgeably manage their electricity consumption and benefit from a more reliable, cleaner system.

You can learn more about smart grids here, here and here.

What is LiCore AC’s role?

By most metrics, smart grids are still in their infancy. Because they seek to respond to the unique needs of producers and consumers in regions with varying natural conditions, political landscapes and electricity needs, they will necessarily consist of many new components — some of which will look and function very differently depending on where in the world they’re deployed.

At LiCore AC, we’re committed to developing technologies that allow for the efficient roll out of smart grid technology in Mexico. We believe strongly that our country’s energy portfolio is crucial to the future wellbeing of our planet. With nearly 130 million residents, Mexico is the world’s 10th largest country. Its size alone lends it credence in influencing world events. What’s more, its natural profile makes it especially well positioned to push the world toward renewable energy.

The LiCore AC team is working to capitalize on these advantages and ensure Mexico plays its proper role in leading the way toward a sustainable energy future.

To highlight just one example, our team is leveraging support from USAID to develop a smart electronic transformer with the potential to replace more traditional models. These devices moderate flows of electricity between power plants and end-users, but outdated technology means a tremendous amount of energy is lost in the process. We’re working to ensure future transformers can handle conventional and renewable sources alike while providing the precise amounts of energy required by end-users.

It is our hope that this technology will one day be integrated into smart grids in Mexico and beyond.

In the meantime, we’ll continue working to develop environmentally sustainable and socially responsible smart grid technologies to help bring global electricity infrastructure fully up to date.