In May we talked about Xcel starting up a smart grid system in Boulder. Now IBM may play a role in how that project unfolds, as well as many other smart grid pilot programs.
IBM is putting smart grids on their front burner by preparing a technical framework that will help to efficiently and effectively put new technology into the old electricity distribution grid. The framework will pull together common protocols and data formats that different utility companies and smart-grid companies can adhere to – in other words, rule books and common language to help new technologies plug in to the larger grid. The framework will help to end the hodge-podge testing of different ideas and different products that is slowing up actual change and improvements.
Why is it so important to get a smart grid up and running? Well, money. Consumers will be able to see their real time energy use and adjust their habits to reduce waste. They can also have the utility companies help them out with making adjustments, such as letting the utility company turn their thermostats to a more appropriate temperature when the grid is heavily impacted. Additionally, consumers can be charged appropriately for their energy use – lower rates during low use times, and higher rates during high use times. Basically, a smart grid can help utility companies and homes talk to one another to save money and energy. Saved energy means fewer new power plants and a better chance of renewable energy sources entering the competition.
IBM, as a large company, investing time and money in developing a framework for smart grids will help ease often-reluctant utility companies into the ring. Utility companies, and their investments, like predictability. And that can be very healthy for smart-grid start-up companies as well. So by providing something that promotes clear guidelines and structure, IBM will be assisting with getting utilities and smart grid companies to work together and get cracking on set-up.
written by Kevin, July 31, 2008
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