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National lab contributes to power grid alliance

DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory : 09 October, 2003  (Technical Article)
Battelle today announced that it has joined a coalition of six other corporations in forming the GridWise Alliance, a collaboration that will realize the vision of an electric power grid that leverages information technology to improve power generation, distribution and consumption. Battelle will provide scientific and technological expertise through the Department of Energy
The alliance will be comprised of Alstom, Battelle, IBM, PJM, RockPort Capital Partners, Sempra Energy and UAI. By joining together, the alliance will provide stronger, more strategic and innovative science-based solutions to federal agencies and power generation and distribution organizations.

“The GridWise Alliance is committed to bringing the speed, efficiency and productivity enhancements of information technology to the electric grid,” said Mike Lawrence, associate laboratory director for PNNL’s Energy Science and Technology Directorate.

“This vision for a transaction-based, information-rich system is called GridWise, and it has the ability to greatly improve the efficiency and reliability of our electric system the same way information technology has improved the efficiency of virtually all other businesses over the past 15 years,” he said. “GridWise can do for the grid what the Internet has done for communication.”

According to Steve Hauser, alliance executive director and UAI’s vice president of DigitalCity, “The GridWise Alliance takes a systems approach, one that optimizes energy resources by allowing all elements of the power grid to work together in smarter and faster ways. It envisions new and existing technologies working together, allowing each to sense and respond to real-time changes in the entire grid, similar to how parts of a living organism cooperate to function as a whole.

“By banding together and expanding its membership, the alliance hopes to shape the power system transformation for the benefit of all Americans.”

The alliance’s mission is to lead the transformation of the U.S. electric system into the information age, including generation to delivery, down to customer appliances and equipment. This transformation would empower consumers through direct participation in energy markets and benefit market participants by offering solutions that cross the enterprise and regulatory boundaries. Additionally, the integration of information technologies into the grid is expected to enhance security and reliability by creating a flexible and adaptive system. Individually, the alliance partners have invented different technologies and approaches that could be leveraged by the alliance.

One example of a technology that could be rolled into the alliance’s approach is the Grid-Friendly Appliance controller, a credit card-sized circuit board developed at PNNL that could be installed in refrigerators, air conditioners, water heaters and other household appliances and that could temporarily shut down these appliances for a brief period without inconveniencing the consumer. The device would continually monitor the power gird and, when event-level fluctuations were identified, could automatically turn the appliance off for up to a few minutes. If millions of these controllers were installed in household appliances across the country, the combined and instantaneous reduction of demand on an overloading grid could alleviate pressures on the grid that lead to major blackouts.

“PNNL’s Grid-Friendly Appliance controller would provide a powerful safety net for the power grid,” Lawrence said. “The controller is just one product of the laboratory’s investment in science and technology that can be utilized to transform the energy system. The GridWise members recognize that 21st century science and technology offer the best hope for a solution to a problem that, if not properly addressed now, will plague us for many years.”

The alliance will be accepting additional members who are willing to commit to advancing the GridWise vision and to implementing this vision. The alliance already has begun developing strategic relationships with key federal agencies, including DOE.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is a Department of Energy Office of Science facility that is gaining new knowledge through fundamental research and providing science-based solutions to some of the nation’s most pressing challenges in national security, energy and environmental quality. The laboratory employs more than 3,800 scientists, engineers, technicians and support staff, and has an annual budget of nearly $600 million. Battelle, based in Columbus, Ohio, has operated PNNL since its inception in 1965 for the federal government.

Battelle is a global leader in science and technology. It develops and commercializes technology and manages laboratories for government and commercial customers. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Battelle, with the national labs it manages or co-manages, oversees 16,000 staff members and conducts $2.7 billion in annual research and development. Battelle innovations include the development of the office copier machine, Xerox, pioneering work on compact disc technology, fiber optics technology and Medical Technology advancements.
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