Energy in America — and the world in general — doesn’t meet the tests of a true system. For one thing, today’s energy landscape is not truly connected. Second, many of the components and subsystems are not instrumented, or they are instrumented differently from region to region. And, finally, our current energy system is not as adaptable. This is the gist of the call to action being delivered today at the GridWise Global Forum in Washington by IBM Chairman and CEO Samuel J. Palmisano.
It is a message that cannot be heard and acted on soon enough. Demand for electricity is forecast to grow by 33% in the next 20 years. In Asia that number soars to 100%. One of the drivers behind this growth is technology innovation such as electric vehicles (EV). Chevrolet, Nissan, Toyota and others are all rolling out electric vehicles for mass-market consumption. The U.S. government is spending billions to get one million electric or hybrid vehicles on the road by 2015. EVs represent a major step forward in cutting our greenhouse gas emissions, but only if our power grids can keep pace.
The current electric grid is complex, aging and increasingly overextended. Eisenhower-era transformers and moon-shot era meters are connected to outdated communications networks. These are all issues we’ve addressed here on this blog for the past two years. Fortunately, utility companies are already working to transform their systems. Upgrades are being implemented that allow electricity to flow in two directions and accept power produced by businesses and consumers. Part of this transformation is the communication infrastructure. Today we announced new consulting, design and implementation services that combine with network technology from industry partners to help utilities transform their communications networks and make the transition from traditional to “smart” grids.
IBM’s experience with more than 150 smart grid projects was applied to this offering, shaping a portfolio of services that will help companies create secure and scalable infrastructures integrated from the data center all the way to the sensor or smart meter. Part of IBM’s Intelligent Utility Network solution, these services are supported by partners ADVA Optical Networking, Alvarion, Ciena, Cisco, Itron North America, Juniper Networks, Landis & Gyr North America, Motorola, RuggedCom, Sensus and Trilliant.