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Adding Intelligence to the Grid

28 Jul 2021 2:26 PM | Anonymous

Power grids around the world are facing similar challenges. One of the biggest is the rise in renewable energy generation of all kinds; solar and wind energy are great for the planet, but they are as unpredictable as the weather. Schemes designed to encourage consumers to put solar panels on roofs and use electric vehicles to store energy mean the grid is morphing from one-directional to bi-directional. And instead of demand prediction, utilities now need to predict both supply and demand in real time, at very fine levels of granularity.

“The ability to add AI into the mix and do real time analytics at the edge is going to be critical for increasing the amount of distributed energy resources that can come online,” Marc Spieler, global business development and technology executive for the energy sector at Nvidia told EE Times.

Spieler pointed out that great work is being done in wind, solar and electric vehicles, but if the grid doesn’t have the ability to support these applications, the effort is wasted.

Demand prediction draws on many complicated factors. Aside from the weather, real time prediction might include complex tasks such as predicting how many electric trucks will arrive at which filling station and require battery charging at what exact moment, for example.

“It’s going to come down to hour by hour, minute by minute type decisions,” he said. “And AI is the only thing that’s going to allow that to become efficient.”

Large-scale prediction
Utilities typically subscribe to detailed weather prediction services today, feeding this data into complex models to try to predict energy demand.

“The people doing this best are probably the financial services companies, the hedge funds that are buying and selling power,” Spieler said. “Those guys are making huge investments in AI and they’re capitalizing on the profit.”

However, Spieler said, utilities are upping their game.

“We are seeing a ramp up of data science in the utility,” he said. “Some of the [utilities] we’re working with are ramping up their data science communities. We’re starting to sell hardware DGX systems [Nvidia data center-class AI accelerators] into utilities for the first time.”

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