Journal of the Indian Institute of Science

Cyber physical systems for smarter energy grids: Experiences at IBM research - India


Power grid operators around the world are facing a number of critical challenges such as energy and peak power shortages, outages and the uncertainty introduced by intermittent renewable energy sources. To address these challenges, the research community has identified a few high-level objectives: alleviation of peak loads, minimization of grid losses, improving the energy efficiency of buildings and loads, and reducing the uncertainty about energy produced by renewable sources. Implementing these strategies would require a "smarter energy" system that is instrumented, with sensors and controls embedded into the fabric of its operations; it is interconnected, enabling the two-way flow of information - including pricing - and energy across the network; and it is intelligent, using analytics and automation to achieve the aforementioned objectives. In this paper, we present a sampling of cyber physical systems we have designed to enable such a smarter energy supply chain. These systems depend on varying levels of instrumentation (sensing/actuation) and network connectivity. There remains a large opportunity to deepen these contributions and taking innovations to full market impact, which require overcoming commercial and regulatory challenges as well. A feature of our work was to consider and be informed of real world and client constraints in our work, and we have built prototypes and experiments for similar circumstances. We hope that these experiences will spark more experimental innovation activity that is critically important for being well grounded in research and indeed, for the success of smart grids worldwide. © Indian Institute of Science.