EARTH University inaugurates smart energy grid

Filed Under: EARTH News
Date: March 1st, 2012
  • System will measure energy consumption and quality with precision, and better anticipate current and future energy needs of the campus.
  • Data can be accessed in real time from any mobile device, such as a laptop or cell phone, with an Internet connection.

Today, EARTH inaugurated an innovative smart grid at the University’s EARTH-La Flor campus at the Daniel Oduber Center in Guanacaste. The grid was installed in collaboration with the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), and the State Department of the United States Embassy in Costa Rica.

This smart energy grid is an information system that works through the 3G network, collecting data on energy use that can be used to increase efficiency.

“This system will inform us about our energy use and assist us in making decisions about our investments. This is an additional step toward gaining a true understanding of this resource,” indicated Carlos Murillo, director of the EARTH-La Flor Campus.

During this first phase, the system will generate information about energy consumption and transmission, efficiency of the equipment, and energy quality monitoring. During the next phase, the grid will incorporate the remote control of both the production equipment and consumption.

The effort represents EARTH University’s continued commitment to promoting and seeking environmentally-friendly solutions to address the energy needs of communities.

How does a smart grid work and what does it measure?

A smart grid is a digitally enabled electrical grid that can be used to control energy consumption in real time. The information generated can be reviewed from a remote location with the use of any mobile device, such as laptop or a cell phone. The only requirement is that the device needs to have an Internet connection.

This system will identify peak hours of consumptions and the flow quality of the service. The system is also useful for determining the quality and quantity of energy produced by renewable sources (such as hydroelectric, solar and wind power).

“The grid is an information source that allows both the energy consumer and supplier to manage consumption in a more efficient manner and anticipate current and future energy needs,” added Murillo.

A collaborative project

The installation of this smart grid was made possible thanks to an $80,000 donation from the U.S. State Department’s Central American Energy and Environmental Security Initiative (EESI), which supports projects to promote clean energy and energy efficiency.

In addition, this initiative received technical advice and support from ICE in the installation of the technology and meters. ICE also created the software for this project and the website that will be used for monitoring the grid.

Finally, several neighboring companies were included in the project, including Ad Astra Rocket, the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport, the Liberia Municipality, and the Guanacaste Conservation Area, in order to demonstrate the viability and operation of the smart grid. This project is the first in Costa Rica authorized to provide information in real time about the performance of the electrical grid. The hope is that through this pilot program, EARTH University will implement a demonstration device of the Guanacaste system that could later be expanded nationally.

“We are working to increase the impact of this project, and one of its objectives is to incorporate in the short term many more companies and institutions in this network,” concluded Murillo.