EME 807
Technologies for Sustainability Systems

9.0 Overview


Electricity is a heavily relied upon commodity, availability of which is critical in every part of modern world operation. In any sustainability model, power systems and management are of primary importance, and the current trends in energy management are highly technological. Innovations and introduction of smart metering and response demand technologies should make it possible to match the versatility of the energy conversion systems with the growing and "spiky" electricity demand. The evident goals of new technological developments are to survive, avoid crisis, and finally build an energy distribution system that is flexible and highly efficient in all circumstances. This lesson touches upon different sides of this complex task.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • describe how the power grid works and what the current challenges are;
  • explain the "Smart Grid" strategy and list the key technologies involved in it;
  • discuss the role of distributed power generation systems in energy sustainability;
  • articulate the benefits of specific demand-response technologies.


You will be asked to read the following items throughout your lesson. Look for these readings in the required reading boxes throughout the lesson pages.

  1. Web article: Solar Power and Electric Grid /NREL. Energy Analysis
  2. Web article: Can Renewables Provide Baseload Power? / Skeptical Science. 2011
  3. Web article: Sunday Train: The Myth of Baseload Power / Daily Kos, 2013
  4. Journal article: Taqqali, W.M. and Abdulaziz, N., Smart Grid and Demand Response Technology, 2010 IEEE International Energy Conference, p. 710-715.
  5. Journal article: Bushby, S.T. and Holmberg, D.G., Advancing Automated Demand Response Technology, ASHRAE Transactions, 2009, Volume 115, Issue 1, pp. 333-337.
  6. US DOE Report: The potential benefits of distributed generation and rate-related issues that may impede their expansion, US Department of Energy 2007

Note: The directly linked materials are available on the web. The items that do not contain a direct link can be accessed electronically through the Penn State Library system.


If you have any questions, please post them to our Questions? discussion forum, located on the Modules page in Canvas. You can use this space to chat about course topics or to ask questions. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses if you are able to help out a classmate.