US utility partners to boost grid innovation

Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO) has partnered with technology firm IBM to optimise utilities' operations through the use of innovative solutions.

Under the partnership, the two parties formed a new company Utopus Insights, which will develop intelligent energy technologies.

VELCO is investing its financial resources to become a strategic partner of Utopus Insights, whilst IBM will provide its Smart Energy Research team, property and technologies for use by the new company as from the first quarter of 2017.

Commenting on the development, Dr Chandu Visweswariah, CEO of Utopus Insights, said: “The energy industry is at the confluence of disruptive technological and economic trends like the growth of digitisation, renewables, energy storage and electric vehicles.

“The company will bring to market a full-featured energy analytics platform, architected for digitisation, on-premises and distributed Internet of Things (IoT) operation. The platform will be built with open APIs that allow integration of third party tools and will include applications that enable best-in-class renewable forecasting, grid asset health and network risk analysis, and Distributed Energy Resource management.”

Tom Dunn, CEO of VELCO, added: “Increasing extreme weather events coupled with explosive growth in weather-dependent renewable energy sources led VELCO to look for new analytical tools to ensure grid reliability.

“When the solution we needed didn’t exist, we reached out to IBM Research and co-created breakthrough grid management software, including the most accurate wind and solar generation forecasting tools in the world.”

The new company is expected to use the experiences of VELCO and IBM to research, develop, test and help utility firms to implement smart grid solutions to ensure the reliability of grid networks and improve customer savings to consumers.

R&D of energy technologies

In related news, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) signed a deal with the US National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) to jointly research on smart grid and water solutions.

NETL is a division of the US Department of Energy responsible for research and development of energy security, coal, natural gas and oil technologies.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between DEWA and NETL will enable the two parties to develop a new framework on how to use technology to reduce carbon emissions and optimise water supply systems and sewage treatment infrastructure.

The MoU will allow DEWA to modernise and ensure its energy and water networks to meet international standards.

Renewable energy resources

In a press statement, DEWA wrote that its agreement with NETL will allow the two organisations to “… make optimal use of the latest technologies in clean coal, the re-using, storing, and capturing of carbon …” in order to contribute to international efforts to tackle climate change.

The MoU will allow the development of innovative energy technologies, which DEWA is confident will help in improving the reliability of its grid network through increased integration of renewable energy resources with its grid system.

Al Tayer, CEO of DEWA, said the utility’s partnership with NETL falls under efforts to reach targets set under the “the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to diversify energy resources, and provide 7% of Dubai’s energy from clean energy sources by 2020, 25% by 2030, and 75% by 2050.” [Canadian university receives grant to boost cybersecurity research]

Employees of DEWA will receive training in the fields of smart grid and smart water from specialised scientists, engineers, and experts from NETL.

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Nicholas Nhede is an experienced energy sector writer based in Clarion Event's Cape Town office. He has been writing for Smart Energy International’s print and online media platforms since 2015, on topics including metering, smart grids, renewable energy, the Internet of Things, distributed energy resources and smart cities. Originally from Zimbabwe, Nicholas holds a diploma in Journalism and Communication Studies. Nicholas has a passion for how technology can be used to accelerate the energy transition and combat climate change.