The grid is about to get a whole lot smarter with the introduction of synchrophasors — high tech devices that measure and transmit incoming energy data at blinding speeds. When deployed en masse, the nifty devices will help to significantly increase the amount of reliable energy transmitted across the grid. Not only will synchrophasors allow grid operators to better monitor and understand electricity generation and usage, they will help bring more wind and solar power online.

A synchrophasor is a small metal box about the size of a mailbox that resides in an electricity substation (the junction point for transmission lines). The device measures data like power flow, voltage and frequency and reports that information back to a grid control center. While other monitors can accomplish this same feat, the synchrophasor is way speedier: Traditional monitors send a data report about every two-to-four seconds; synchrophasors send information about 30 times every second! That may seem like info overload for grid operators, but that kind of reporting is necessary to prevent problems like blackouts and allow more renewables to come online.

The Department of Energy is currently using Recovery Act money to fund synchrophasor projects throughout the nation. Right now, several dozen have been installed, but the hope is to eventually install thousands of synchrophasors throughout the US and Canada.

Via Green Inc.