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A series of conversations for a smarter planet
Power in numbers: The twelve-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 forward 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 the current systems to reduce outages and faults, manage demand, and integrate renewable energy sources such as wind and power.
Today the Coalition comprises twelve members serving nearly 100 million energy customers worldwide. Each utility company brings a unique expertise to the table. For example, DONG Energy of Denmark is a leader in renewable energy, sourcing 20% of their power from wind and working toward generating 50% of their energy with CO2-neutral resources by 2020. And NDPL of India offers the perspective of providing power to an emerging market, where reliability and full access to electricity are still a challenge.
The Coalition shares ideas and best practices through in-person meetings and virtual interactions, benchmarks their efforts, shares knowledge on critical issues and undertakes collaborative initiatives. For example, the successful CenterPoint Energy Smart Grid Demonstration Center gave Country Energy the insight they needed to create their own center in Queenbeyan, Australia.
The Global Intelligent Utility Network Coalition's first collaborative effort was the creation of a Smart Grid Maturity model, which has been used by over 60 utilities from around the world to assess where they are and plan their own smart grid program. It was recently 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.
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.
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 sustainable energies such as wind and solar generation, and interact locally with distributed power sources, or plug-in electric vehicles.
Powering the planet video
The electric grid was conceived in the age of Edison, designed in the age of Eisenhower and installed in the age of Nixon. It hasn't been upgraded since.