Smart energy: Siebel Energy Institute marks launch with US$1m in grants

Brazil revised net metering
The Siebel Energy Institute’s advisory board includes Pacific Gas & Electric, Honeywell and C3 Energy

Global consortium for collaborative smart energy research Siebel Energy Institute has awarded US$1m in research grants to scholars from several of its member research institutions to improve the performance of modern energy systems.

Marking its official launch, the Siebel Energy Institute disbursed funding to 24 teams that received either US$50,000 or US$25,000 seed grants.

The funds will be used to develop research proposals to advance the science of machine learning to respond to electrical outages and cyber security attacks, manage increasingly complex load factors such as electric vehicle charging and integrating renewable energy sources onto the power grid, and optimise the power value chain, said the Institute in a statement.

Researchers will also focus on how to apply advanced analytics to improve energy efficiency, grid reliability, and customer engagement.

The mission of the Siebel Energy Institute says the organization’s chairman, Thomas M. Siebel, is “to dramatically accelerate primary research to advance the science of machine learning and analytics as it relates to energy, oil and gas, and power systems”.

The institute’s members include Carnegie Mellon University, École Polytechnique, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Politecnico di Torino, Princeton University, University of California at Berkeley, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and University of Tokyo.

Advancing smart energy research

The institute will endeavour to unpack the information generated by smart-connected devices, using statistical algorithms necessary to integrate and correlate the data, develop data-driven statistical models and extract value from unrefined raw information.

Mr Siebel added: “We created the Siebel Energy Institute to stimulate the best minds in engineering and computer science to work collaboratively on the science of smart energy.

“Our goal is to advance innovations in data analytics and machine learning to improve the safety, cyber security, reliability, efficiency, and environmental integrity of the advanced smart grid.”

In terms of expansion and development, research teams will use the grant awards to develop larger research proposals and grant submissions to government entities and foundations within a leveraged funding model designed to attract US$100 to US$200 million in funded research over the next five years.

The Siebel Energy Institute will grant 40-50 such research awards annually, in addition to providing continued financial support to funded projects.

S. Shankar Sastry, dean of the College of Engineering at Berkeley and director of the Institute, said: “Leading universities are beginning to dedicate research teams to this area, but we have the opportunity to accelerate innovation.

“The grants we announced today are a catalyst for research that could ultimately break new ground in energy systems analytics.”