A New Kind of Power Grid May be Emerging

Feb 2, 2016 10:38:00 AM by NuEnergen

power_grid-1.jpgThe energy industry is one that is evolving with remarkable speed. At the end of last year, AutoGrid struck a deal with a large Dutch power plant, Ecno Group. The plant, which serves more than two million customers, has agreed to make use of AutoGrid's predictive controls as a means of creating a "software-defined power plant". The goal is to enable energy users to save and use energy, as well as have the ability to exchange and sell it. 

This is only the tip of the iceberg.

The AutoGrid-Ecno agreement is just another illustration of the emerging grid and a new way of doing things. We now have the ability to gather data about where energy supplies are being used, where they are most needed, and where they could be in demand down the road. At the same time, it's possible to both store and dispatch energy more flexibly and on a multi-directional basis. Ultimately, the idea is to empower utilities, service providers, and enterprises to enjoy integrating numerous flexible distributed energy resources into a single resource that can be forecasted, managed, optimized, and dispatched. This is inclusive of assets including energy storage (ie: batteries), solar, CHIP, and Demand Response programs.

One way to look at the emerging grid is as an "energy cloud". This term, which was coined by Navigant Research, is a totally new approach. Instead of the traditional, centralized utility hub and a one-way electrical grid, we're looking at a decentralized network of how energy can be generated, transported, moved, and used. Numerous resources are available to generate electricity, and the idea is that these can be shared more easily than ever before. 

Commercializing the marriage of energy, IT, and telecommunications hasn't been easy, but that doesn't mean that major enterprises aren't jumping at the opportunity to take part in making it happen. The newness of the concept and the broadness of possibilities are causing it to be grabbed at from all directions by a number of different players in the energy, IT, and telecomm sectors. C3 Energy, for example, takes pride in defining itself as an enterprise that is able to offer "Data aggregation, real-time analytics, business intelligence capabilities, and an intuitive, responsive user experience." Space-Time Insight, on the other hand, says that it offers a "big picture" view of anything that's being controlled by the grid system. Finally, Bit Stew works to unite "centrally managed data sources with connected devices across a utility's infrastructure [and] combine real-time data management, analytics, and rich visualizations." 

If these self-descriptions sound familiar, it's because the competing businesses are all vying for the same space. As utilities look for ways to stay relevant and connected, we expect to see more going the way of Ecno and teaming up with enterprises like these as a means of embracing the newly emerging grid.

Stay current with what's going on as the energy cloud continues to evolve by checking our blog frequently and partnering up with our team of experts here at NuEnergen.