Since the industrial revolution, the systems responsible for the distribution of electrical power have formed the backbone of modern society. Although these systems have benefited us in unbelievable ways, it is now time to rethink the manner in which we relate to energy distribution and new technologies. This is the message behind Smarter Energy.
GridWise Global Forum 2010
In a address to the GridWise Global Forum 2010, IBM Chairman Samuel J. Palmisano outlined the advantages and challenges of implementing a smarter grid. "One element of this [energy] ecosystem hasn't yet been successfully engaged or mobilised," said Palmisano, "and it is the most important one of all: the energy consumer." But this is beginning to change.
Several utilities have been advancing smart grid deployments that provide greater visibility and control for users:
- Energy Australia has installed more than 14,000 new grid sensors that deliver cutting-edge monitoring and control capabilities for their 1.5 million homes and businesses.
- In an innovative programme called Smart Meter Texas, Centerpoint, Oncor and American Electric Power have deployed more than 7 million advanced meters. These are enabling consumers to make more informed choices on energy use, enroll in energy supply contracts and take advantage of innovative new energy services.
A series of conversations for a smarter planet
Smart Grid feature stories
Analytics, asset management and other technologies are making wind farms smarter, adding momentum to this fast-growing industry.
The energy and auto industries are getting ready to take a road trip together toward e-mobility.
Get the latest thinking on strategies and solutions for securing the smart grid.
Micro grids. Smarter nuclear power. Grid security.
Download these three preview chapters to our new book: "Generating Insights—Accelerating into a New Era in Energy"
A collaboration between IBM and Kyoto Publishing
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 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 fourteen members serving nearly 150 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 (US), 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 behaviour 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 optimise 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.