Nov 21, 2019
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A few decades ago, nobody could have foreseen a day when progressive initiatives—such as the adoption of distributed energy resources (DER) and battery storage systems, decarbonization, electric vehicles (EVs), and legalized marijuana— would dominate the headlines. Although each initiative represents a form of “progress,” they all lag in one crucial aspect. They rely on the assumption that existing, aged infrastructure can accommodate the unplanned, never- imagined energy demand burdens that accompany new industry sectors.
Essentially, the initiatives are exerting tremendous stress on the power grid. While EV charging stations have created unplanned grid-edge loading on aged transformers, hydroponically-grown marijuana consumes a ton of electricity. Consider that growing just four cannabis plants adds 29 refrigerators of power usage, and a solitary EV charging station amounts to 2.5 homes of energy demand. Likewise, with DER being emphasized and mandated across various U.S. states, the grids are facing the unique dilemma of “reverse overloading” of transformers. Imagine driving your car in reverse at 70 miles per hour for 4 hours per day. That is what DERs and excessive clean energy production are doing to aging transformers.
Clearly, existing grid infrastructure is unable to support said initiatives. So grave is the situation that electric utility operators are unable to predict a power outage until it is reported.
Determined to flip this script is GRID20/20, a smart grid solution provider that supplies best-in-class distribution transformer monitoring devices along with valuable analytics offerings. Through a groundbreaking Advanced Transformer Infrastructure (ATI) solution, GRID20/20 provides “reliable, unique, timely, accurate, and granular intra-grid data” to enhance the distribution grid management capabilities of electric utility operators across the world. “We flip the historical reactive grid management efforts into a proactive, ‘hands-free’ grid management process through our solution,” says Alan Snook, the president of GRID20/20.
The “hands-free” aspect of the solution truly stands out since GRID20/20 is focused on giving utility operators a superior level of power and control over the aging grid infrastructure.
So, how do operators gain unparalleled intra-grid awareness via the ATI solution?
It’s a rather straightforward process. Through a user-friendly software, operators can establish their desired intra-grid tolerances before GRID20/20’s patented sensor suite (i.e., OptaNODE®), and robust software platform kicks into high gear. Thereafter the OptaNODE- powered solution delivers automated alerts when intra-grid conditions go awry and pinpoints outage notifications to accelerate restoration efforts. By leveraging actionable data to identify existing and manifesting intra-grid problems, utilities gain critical grid visibility intelligence and accurately identify adverse grid-edge impacts. Rather than supplying voluminous, useless information, the solution delivers only critical, actionable data. “The unique capabilities presented by ATI to capture and report a host of data points within the most dynamic and vulnerable segment of the grid is becoming a versatile game-changer for utilities around the world,” declares Snook.
A game-changer, indeed! As of this writing, GRID20/20 has served the varying needs of electric utilities across 12 countries. While most distribution grids suffer from similar intra-grid issues, every market has its nuances. Team GRID20/20 has the expertise to gauge the differences and alter its solutions accordingly. To that end, it is worth highlighting the sustained value GRID20/20 has brought to the largest supplier of electricity in Hawaii.
Since Hawaii represents the largest U.S. residential PV penetration per capita, their grids can be extremely affected by reverse energy loading and overloading on transformers, and substantial voltage fluctuations. GRID20/20 helps utility operators to evade any such intra-grid challenges. “Because our patented sensors can accurately capture both forward and reverse energy, along with other key data points, the client can monitor various intra-grid impacts. Over the last six years, our valuable intra-grid insights have helped Hawaiian Electric to sustain a safe and reliable grid by facilitating operations and planning decisions,” adds Snook.
GRID20/20’s ATI solution presents substantial revenue growth opportunities for utilities, while simultaneously addressing serious grid issues. While its competitors have been focused on using algorithms and AMI data to examine intra-grid conditions, GRID20/20 has dedicated the last eight years into R&D and countless trials and pilots, to weave its revolutionary solution. Snook elaborates, “In an industry that is notoriously slow to adopt, we have produced and field-proven a pioneering solution. Rather than relying on inaccuracies associated with algorithms and AMI data, we have proven there is no substitute for actual intra-grid data, or having a continuous pulse on the dynamic intra-grid fluctuations and conditions.”
GRID20/20 is also determined to help California’s utilities overcome wildfires. While GRID20/20 cannot specifically address transmission line concerns, it can provide utilities with invaluable intra-grid visibility to ideally replace wholesale blackouts with surgical/planned blackouts. “And, once the distribution space is better understood via our ATI solution, we will lessen the amount of excess energy within our transmission lines,” adds Snook.
With the advent of decarbonization mandates, ongoing cryptocurrency mining, and other grid-edge pressures, it is crystal-clear that utilities require dependable intra-grid visibility. A pioneer in this next necessary step of grid modernization, GRID20/20—having accumulated 25 patents involving seven separate countries—is postured to grow in strength and scale with imminent market adoption. “Our ATI solution is powered by a game-changing technology that will act as a stalwart contributor to the grid modernization evolution,” concludes Snook.
Please check out the full article and recognition from Utilities Tech Outlook: Proactive Grid Management to Support New Demands