April 2014

Utilities: Time to get on the optimization bandwagon – a BoldIQ byline in SmartGridNews

Here’s an article penned by the CEO of a company that has built an optimization engine that works for many different industries, including electric power. I wanted to run it not to spotlight any company in particular, but to underline the growing sophistication of grid optimization options. Sophisticated solutions are emerging from national laboratories, universities, non-profit research companies, established grid vendors and innovative startups like the one highlighted here. – Jesse Berst

The US Energy Information Administration expects that the global energy market will see demand grow by more than half its present level by 2035 because of a growing world population. This increased demand and consumption will exceed the renewable rate at which many resources can be produced and the overall sustainability of today’s culture could be in danger. More demand and a dwindling supply of nonrenewable resources is cause for concern and cities need to start taking action now to minimize the risk.

Typically, utilities match demand by increasing supply and the infrastructure to support it, but there are other options that can save valuable time, money and resources. Instead of spending capital to build additional generators and power plants to continue producing enough energy to meet rising demands, power companies should learn to optimize their resources to maximize their availability.

New optimization technologies smart grid, modern grid, smart grid technology, grid optimization, electric utilities New dynamic real-time optimization technologies are available to disrupt how energy firms think about their grid and how they handle unforeseen interruptions.

Dynamic real-time resource optimization software was leveraged in a test of data from a large energy-focused organization in the Pacific Northwest. The test sought to learn how to meet network level loads while reducing overall operating costs and use of network assets. In a testing environment, the optimization software delivered in a matter of seconds and in some cases milliseconds, a nine-day hour by hour resource use plan for its 128 power sources.

Compared to the current optimization software in use, the solutions met all of the required load while matching and in some cases reducing the overall network cost. In addition to the planning, the optimization engine enables real-time disruption recovery. For example when shutting down a power source unexpectedly, as could happen in the real-world, the engine provided a new actionable recovery plan in 0.03 seconds that allowed the operation to maintain the same level of power output with fewer resources.

The same power from fewer resources What this means is that power companies could distribute the same amount of power (or perhaps even more), using fewer power sources. In a world where demand is increasing and resources are decreasing, this has tremendous implications. Retiring old inefficient power plants without having to necessarily replace them may now in fact be a realistic option for consideration. As predictions continue to foreshadow increased strain on the energy market, utility companies should take a modern sophisticated view of the action they should take now to be better equipped to handle the future.

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