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.
More than 10,000 responses from 15 countries worldwide produced the results of the third Global Utility Consumer Survey (US). 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.
We're here to help
A series of conversations for a smarter planet
Smarter Energy POV
Transforming the energy value chain
Smarter Energy Virtual Briefing Center
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 (link resides outside of ibm.com) 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 (link resides outside of ibm.com) 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 (link resides outside of ibm.com) 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.
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 190 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.
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 (US).
Analytics-driven smarter wind farms are gaining in efficiency and reliability for powering the grid and fueling electric vehicles. Read the story (US).
Get the latest thinking on strategies and solutions for securing the smart grid. Read the story (US).