Thursday, November 25, 2010

IBM Collaborates with Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) for Smart Grid Research

IBM has joined hands with Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IITK) and Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) to carry out research in Smart Grids. Together they will develop systems that will make power grids more efficient and resilient. The IBM researchers and IITs students and professors will develop open system designs for Phasor Measurement Units (PMU), network architectures to store data from PMUs, and analytical tools to process the collected data. The knowledge and insight gained through this partnership will be available publicly, so that businesses and governments across the world can take the advantage. 

Dr. Manish Gupta, Director IBM Research - India and Chief Technologies, IBM India/South Asia said , "With exploding world population and the increased demand for clean and cheap energy there is a pressing need for making the power grids efficient, intelligent, and secure. The collaboration among IBM Research – India, IIT Madras and IIT Kharagpur aims at reducing inherent inefficiencies of power grid technologies and make them optimally productive," In essence, the partnership is aimed towards creating sustainable energy systems.
According to IBM Press release, "IIT Kharagpur will be primarily involved in developing the new power system applications and software systems for the project. While, IIT Madras will focus on the networking architecture to ensure that the data collected from different locations is appropriately transmitted to one location.  A test bed will be developed to connect IBM Research labs and both the institutes to emulate a smart grid network. The test bed will be utilized to evaluate the network architecture and the open system designs in real-life scenarios". Students from IITs will gain valuable experiences from IBMs collaboration, as the company is engaged in Smart Grid projects across the world. Prof. A.K.Sinha of IIT Kharagpur expressed, "Through our knowledge in the power system application domain and IBM's expertise our students will work towards developing an innovative grid management application to make the power grid more reliable". Also, prof. Krishna Sivalingam from IIT Madras noted that the association will provide a platform to students to learn real-life application development from IBM veterans. 

This is part of the IBM's Open Collaborative Research(OCR) initiative to foster innovation through university-industry partnership.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

HCL lends first-of-a-kind Smart Grid contract of $100 million in India

HCL, The 5th largest IT company in India has earned the distinction of being the first company to lend multi-million dollar Smart Grid project in India. As reported by Business Standard, the company will establish intelligent electricity network by integrating generators and consumers, which will allow to efficiently manage demand and supply hence, increasing the robustness of the power system.

Anant Gupta, president of  HCL Technologies Infrastructure Services Division, quoted,“HCL has signed the world’s first-of-a-kind smart grid contract with an Indian power distribution enterprise. Smart grids can be used in the emerging markets to reduce inefficiencies and there are 6-10 players in the industry which are offering such solutions. The company under its Ecosystems and Business Incubation initiative is incubating 5 technology ideas, which include Smart Grids, Cloud Computing, E-Governance, Mobility, and Biometrics.  As one of the empaneled IT consultants for Government of India's R-APDRP program, HCL has already won 5 R-APDRP projects in different states. It has also set up Smart Grid labs in India and Raleigh, North Carolina to tap this emerging opportunity, which the company plans to initially capture 5% market share. 

The Smart Grid market is still at the nascent stage and with its ever growing potential, HCL with its present less than 100 staff in this segment is aiming to become turnkey integrators.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

IBM targets Indian Smart Grid market

The Indian economy is forecasted to grow at 9% in 2010-2011 fiscal year, which in the coming years is set to reach double digit growth (10%+). Such hyper growth will need unprecedented amount of energy that can only be met through efficient energy utilization. IBM- The Big blue, which is at the fore-front of Smart Grid development in US is eyeing the hyper-growing India energy market. IBMs general manager for Global Energy and Utilities Guido Bartels said to The BusinessLine,  "IBM is prepared to offer Managed Business Process Services to electric utilities in India… We see huge potential in the next five years." IBM, which is engage with many utility companies in US and across the world, provides ready-made IBM manage Smart Grid systems to public utilities that help improve their power usage and efficiency. 

The substations, transformers, and energy meters, which are important part of the energy infrastructure are sort of standalone silos in India, and have no real-time monitoring. IBM see this as potential business opportunity especially with implementation of Demand-Response features. According Mr. Bartel, IBM offers solution in entire energy value chain including integration of renewable energy. R-APDRP(Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme) is the key program that is set to transform the India Utility industry, which, IBM is closely observing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

These 10 Smart Grid trends will have louder buzz in 2011 and beyond

The prominent clean-tech research organization Pike Research has identified top Smart Grid trends that will have higher decibels just not in words but also in action in Smart Grid community in the coming years.With Smart Grid projects being implemented across the world, the Smart Grid community is learning the potential challenges, issues, and opportunities the transformation of the energy infrastructure presents.

1) Smart Grid Security to become top concern
As the Smart Grid implementation gathers pace, security is set to become the one of the top concern in Smart Grid domain. With no standards and protocols defined and with the complexity it possesses, security is going to be the major nightmare for the Smart Grid, which was well analyzed by the experts when the recent  Stuxnet virus breakout occurred. And, hence NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) has given due weightage by publishing  three volumes of  "Guidelines for Smart Grid Cyber Security".

2) Distribution Automation will become the Smart Grid Application
The AMI(Automated Metering Infrastructure) or in general sense Smart Meter that has got more publicity so far, it seems that is set to change in the coming years, according to Pike Research. Distribution automation, which includes Demand Response, Electric Cars, and distribution generation is set to take center stage.

3) "Bakersfield Effect" or the loud consumer push back of Smart Grid will continue
Consumer experienced higher electricity bills in California and Texas after implementation of Smart Meters by PG&E and Oncor respectively. Many consumers showed loud opposition to Smart Meter, In addition to this, some Counties in US passed resolution against Smart Meters and Maryland rejected Baltimore Gas and Utilities (BGE's) Smart Meter plan (which they accepted later on with some changes). As the Smart Meter and Smart Grid implantation gathers pace, such events will increase. Industry as whole needs to educate consumers and be ready to address the concern of the consumers, which it seems it wasn't ready in 2010.

4) The Smart Meter and AMI focus will move to China and Europe
With North America leading the Smart Grid implementation in 2010, all the Smart Meters and AMI buzz was in US and Canada. It seems to change from 2011, as Europe, which spearheaded the Smart Meters implementation, and China are set to have largest numbers of Smart Meters implementations in coming years. Europe is planning implement 100 million Smart Meters, notable among them is Spain, UK, France, and Germany. China, which is leading the Smart grid investment pack in 2010 is set to rollout 750 million Smart Meters by 2020, according to Pike Research.

5) HAN will be in waiting ..
HAN (not the Chinese name) the Home Area Network,with agreed basic Zigbee standards and available critical mass of Smart Meters in 2010, was supposed to gain momentum. However, with changes in standards, integration of IP in the standards, and due to "Bakersfield Effect", It will have its first implementation in sometime middle of 2011 and the real growth may happen in 2012. 

6) Demand Response will accelerate
The companies like EnerNOC, which are into business of offering benefits to customers who reduce the energy usage during certain time period, which is also know as curtailment services, will gather momentum in coming years. Also, companies like Honeywell, Siemens, and Johnson controls, which provide services and products for Energy Management Services (EMS) will enter in this domain. IT companies like Cisco and IBM are also investigating EMS space with their new products and may disrupt the DR domain with advance offering of EMS and DR.

7) Smart Grid stimulus will start showing its impact
The US government's $3.4 billion stimulus package announced in 2009 and allocated in 2010 will show its impact from 2011 onwards. The funds have accelerated the process of standards, educational and training program are being prepared that will provide skilled workforce, and pilots will provide the much needed experiment for the full roll out. 

8) Standards will catch up with the deployment efforts
Without standards no big complex system can function effectively, having known this, Smart Grid community is working on setting up common standards for its ecosystem. Nonetheless, the effort so far have lagged behind the actual implementation, which is more so accurate in the case of AMI. Worldwide, there are various standards and protocols that are being adopted, Within US itself IP, Zigbee, propriety mesh, Wi-Fi, and others are being adopted by utilities and their vendors.The interaction between this standards, and what standards to be adopted still being discussed, however, US and Europe seems to finally coming up with the Standards that will catch with the deployment.

9) Data management will be the next major challenge for Smart Grid
With the implementation of Smart Meters or AMI and other Smart Grid technologies, utilities will start gathering data at every 15 minutes or in some cases less than that, which is set to create an ocean of data that needs to manage, maintain, and analyze. Essentially, it will require new, advanced, and better IT technology, skills, and expertise. According to Pike Research "The smart grid is driving utility back-end IT systems and applications toward an even more radical transformation than the communications infrastructure".  Collecting the data, integrating in the system, transforming into useful information, and transmitting to its users in timely manner is going to be the daunting task for the industry.

10) Data and Telecom vendors will become serious about Smart Grid
Top telecom companies Vodafone, AT&T, Verizon, and others are emerging as serious players in the Smart Grid industry by offering their communication infrastructure to utilities.  More Partnership like Cicso and Itron  will emerge in the coming years and 2011 may be the transformative year  for the Telecom companies.