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Smarter Energy

We face unprecedented energy and climate challenges. The decisions we make now will affect the planet and our way of life for generations.

For decades, power was something the average person did not think much about.

Until it went out. And then it was all you thought about...until it came back. Not any more.

Climate change, rising energy prices and technology advances are all forces that have been reshaping the collective mindset of consumers, turning many from "passive ratepayers" to highly informed, environmentally conscious customers who want a role in using power. And now, with the emergence of the technologies that make smart grids possible, companies can provide their customers with the information and control they need to actually change their behavior patterns and reduce usage and costs that show up on the utility bill.

Entering the digital age

IBM is helping utilities add a layer of digital intelligence to their grids. These smart grids use sensors, meters, digital controls and analytic tools to automate, monitor and control the two-way flow of energy across operations—from power plant to plug. A power company can optimize grid performance, prevent outages, restore outages faster and allow consumers to manage energy usage right down to the individual networked appliance.

Smart grids can also incorporate new renewable energies such as solar and wind power, and interact locally with distributed power sources, or plug-in electric vehicles.

2011 IBM Global Utility Consumer Survey: What do consumers really think about energy? Watch the video.

More than 10,000 responses from 15 countries worldwide produced the results of the third Global Utility Consumer Survey. Between September 2010 and February 2011, survey participants answered up to 35 questions each, revealing their understanding of and expectations about the smart grid, smart meters, energy costs and ways to save energy.

Smarter charging: The key for electric vehicles

Smarter Energy POV
Transforming the energy value chain


Smarter Energy Virtual Briefing Center

smarter Energy

Energy companies around the world are implementing more efficient grids and finding creative approaches to saving energy. Register at the Smarter Energy Virtual Briefing Center to watch presentations that feature industry experts and executives from innovative companies.

The series Transforming your utility network explains how IBM helped Hydro One Networks supply and deploy a Distribution Management System; enabled electricity distributor OnCor to implement a scalable security solution; and worked with CenterPoint Energy on a private wi-max network.

Intelligent Electric Vehicle Enablement discusses the future of electric vehicles and how technology and market development are adapting to integrate EVs with the electric grid.

Knowledge is power: Driving smarter energy usage through consumer education looks at ways utilities and other smart-grid advocates can inform consumers about managing their own energy usage to help meet future needs and expectations.

Smarter power for a smarter planet.

For most of the last century, our electrical grids stood as an engineering marvel of the modern age and a global symbol of progress. The cheap, abundant power they brought changed the way the world worked-filling homes, streets, businesses, towns and cities with energy.

But today's electrical grids reflect a time when energy was cheap, their impact on the natural environment wasn't a priority and consumers weren't even part of the equation. Back then, the power system could be centralized, closely managed and supplied by a relatively small number of large power plants. It was designed to distribute power in one direction only-not to manage a dynamic global network of energy supply and demand.

As a result of inefficiencies in this system, the world's grids are now incredibly wasteful. With little or no intelligence to balance loads or monitor power flows, they lose enough electricity annually to power India, Germany and Canada for an entire year. If the Canadian grid alone were just 5% more efficient, it would be like permanently eliminating the fuel and greenhouse gas emissions from 4 million cars. Billions of dollars are wasted every day generating energy that never reaches a single light bulb.

Fortunately, our energy can be made smart. It can be managed like the complex global system it is.

We can now instrument everything from the meter in the home to the turbines in the plants to the network itself. In fact, the intelligent utility system actually looks a lot more like the Internet than like a traditional grid. It can be linked to thousands of power sources-including climate-friendly ones like wind and solar. All of this instrumentation then generates new data, which advanced analytics can turn into insight, so that better decisions can be made in real time. Decisions by individuals and businesses on how they can consume differently. Decisions by utility companies on how they can better manage loads. Decisions by governments and societies on how to preserve our environment. The whole system can become more efficient, reliable,

Smart Grid projects are already helping consumers save 10% on their bills and reduce peak demand by 15%. Imagine the potential savings when this is scaled to include companies, government agencies and universities.

IBM scientists and industry experts are working on smart energy solutions like these around the world. We're working with utility companies globally to accelerate the adoption of smart grids to help make them more reliable and give customers better usage information. We've worked on six of the world's ten largest automated meter management projects. We're even exploring how to turn millions of future electric vehicles into a distributed storage system, so excess power can be harnessed and returned to the system.

Our electrical grids can be a symbol of progress again-if we imbue the entire system with intelligence. And we can. Let's build a smarter planet.


Smart Grid feature stories

The Battery 500 project seeks a new, "breathing" battery that dramatically increases the range an electric car can travel on a single charge—to at least 500 miles. Read the story.

Analytics-driven smarter wind farms are gaining in efficiency and reliability for powering the grid and fueling electric vehicles. Read the story.

Get the latest thinking on strategies and solutions for securing the smart grid. Read the story.


How much electricity do your appliances use?


Smart Grid

Power in numbers: The fourteen-member Global Intelligent Utility Network Coalition advances
the smart grid worldwide

In 2007, IBM formed a coalition of innovative utility companies to accelerate the use of smart grid technologies and move the industry through its most challenging transformation. The Global Intelligent Utility Network Coalition wants to change the way power is generated, distributed and used by adding digital intelligence to current systems to reduce outages and faults, manage demand, and integrate renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. Today coalition members serve nearly 150 million energy customers worldwide, with each utility company bringing unique expertise to the table.

The coalition's first collaborative effort was the creation of a Smart Grid Maturity model, which has been used by utilities around the world to assess current status and plan their own smart grid program. It was donated to Carnegie Mellon's Software Engineering Institute for use by the industry. Other collaborations are focused on the impact of the smart grid on climate change, consumer perspectives, standards and interoperability, and possible future regulatory models.

As part of the IUN Coalition, we collaborate and share experiences with the best worldwide to achieve our goals: optimizing the usage of wind energy, improving energy efficiency and reliability, and making smart grid investments while ensuring low cost. - Jens Jakobsson, Vice President Power Distribution, DONG Energy in Denmark

Global Intelligent Utility Network Coalition. 1. Alliander - The Netherlands, 2. Centerpoint Energy, Inc - U.S.,  3. CPFL Energia - Brazil, 4. DONG Energy - Denmark, 5. E.ON AG-Germany, 6. ERDF - France, 7. Essential Energy - Australia, 8. IBM - U.S., 9. KEPCO of Korea - South Korea, 9. KEPCO of Korea - South Korea, 10. Oncor - u.s., 11. Pepco Holdings - U.S., 12. Progress Energy - U.S., 13. Sempra Energy - U.S., 14- Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd,   15. TEPCO of Tokyo - Japan


 Global Intelligent Utility Network Coalition members

Alliander (Arnhem, Netherlands)
Alliander, the largest network company in the Netherlands, is paving the way for increased adoption and usage of electric vehicles by working with other companies in their ecosystem to provide 10,000 charging points throughout the country by 2012.

CenterPoint Energy (Houston, TX)
CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric is a transmission and distribution company serving approximately 2.2 million consumers in the Houston area, the fourth largest city in the U.S, and operates in an electric deregulated market. The CenterPoint Energy demonstration center was one of the first in the world to show the smart meter and outage restoration benefits that can be realized through smart grid technologies.

CPFL (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
CPFL is the largest private company in the Brazilian electric sector and the first company to negotiate carbon credits.

DONG Energy (Copenhagen, Denmark)
DONG Energy is one of the leading energy companies in the Nordics, with activities in the whole energy value chain. They are breaking ground with work on projects to time vehicle charging with the intermittent wind.

ERDF (Paris, France)
ERDF, the distribution arm of EDF and the largest electricity distribution network in the European Union, is working to capitalize on advanced meter management capabilities to improve network operations, control, maintenance and development.

Essential Energy (Queenbeyan, Australia)
Australia's largest power supply network, they manage supply across 95 percent of New South Wales' land mass. Country Energy's innovative Intelligent Network (IN) Demonstration Center showcases the benefits of a smart grid through real examples such as energy storage and vehicle to grid.

IBM (New York, NY)
IBM is helping clients around the world to deliver on the vision of a smart grid through its comprehensive approach of end-to-end solutions, informed policy and regulatory initiatives, and broadening awareness of critical areas such as standards. IBM's solutions address the entire energy value chain, water, and gas, and are an important part of the smarter planet initiative.

KEPCO (Seoul, South Korea)
As the sole electric power company in Korea, KEPCO serves 18 million customers. The company has a range of businesses, including an expanding nuclear-generation business, and advanced capabilities in distribution automation. On Jeju Island in Korea, KEPCO is leading the world's largest comprehensive smart grid test bed, which brings together smart technologies in the areas of generation, power grids, electrical service, buildings, and transportation.

TPDDL (Delhi, India)
TPDDL, a joint venture between Tata Power and the Delhi government, created innovative initiatives that significantly reduced energy loss and pioneered substation automation in India. TPDDL is also taking a leadership role in policy advocacy for smart grid initiatives in India.

Oncor Electric Delivery (Dallas, Texas)
Oncor is a regulated electric distribution and transmission business that uses superior asset management skills to provide reliable electricity delivery to consumers. Oncor operates the largest distribution and transmission system in Texas, delivering power to approximately 3 million homes and businesses and operating approximately 117,000 miles of distribution and transmission lines in Texas.

PHI (Washington, D.C.)
PHI is one of the largest energy delivery companies in the Mid-Atlantic U.S. with consumers in three states and the District of Columbia. PHI is helping energy customers understand how smart grid technologies and energy efficiency programs will benefit them through their innovative "Day in the Life Of" video segments on their Web site.

Progress Energy (Raleigh, NC)
Progress Energy is a fully integrated utility serving Florida and the Carolinas from generation to the consumer. Recently celebrating a century of service in 2008, they are working to improve the efficiency of power flow throughout their system through their work in voltage control and fault location.

Sempra Energy (San Diego, CA)
Sempra Energy is driving the progressive State of California metering initiative through its extensive smart meter deployment currently underway. All residential and business customers will have their meters replaced with a smart meter by the end of 2011. In addition, their work on microgrids, condition-based maintenance of substations and a state-of-the-art OMS/DMS system are advancing smart grid on multiple fronts.

TEPCO (Tokyo, Japan)
TEPCO, the largest vertically integrated electric utility company in Japan, serves approximately 45 million consumers in the metropolitan Tokyo area. The TEPCO Group has launched a new management vision for the next ten years, "2020 Vision: Medium to Long-term Growth Declaration." As part of these growth plans, TEPCO will focus on introducing more zero-emission power sources, recommending more electrification, developing "smarter " power networks, and other initiatives to drive continuous improvement across its operations and services.