It’s A Smart World After All

on June 29, 2011 at 3:20 PM

The White House‘s recent announcement of several American smart grid initiatives may have been more of a jump onto a rapidly moving train than an original idea.

Smart grid technology is in fact becoming increasingly popular around the world. IBM’s announcement of two new smart grid initiatives, in Brazil and Korea, points to a tremendous change that may be imminent in global electrical grids.

IBM has already been quite active in deploying smart grid technology. It helped the tiny Mediterranean-island country Malta complete construction infrastructure for a national smart grid system. And, in today’s announcement, the company said it would be experimenting with some new technologies for the purpose of eventually implementing smart grids on an even larger scale.

“Investing in a smart grid is more than a trend; it is a market requirement,” said Rubens Bruncek Ferreira, director of CPFL Energia, the largest utility in South American, which is collaborating with IBM on the Brazil project.

Best Practices For Brazil

While residential smart meters won’t be deployed in Brazil like they were in Malta project, the IBM project will focus on helping the country’s utilities and energy companies use digital technology to enhance energy data management, operational efficiency and communication networks. The three proposed Brazilian smart grid projects include, Automatic Meter Data Collection, Meter Data Management, and Optimized Communications Network.

According to IBM’s VP of Global Business Services, Michael Valocchi, the Brazilian project faces the challenge of upgrading a sprawling grid that covers a large geographic region.

“The service area is very very vast,” Valocchi told Breaking Energy. “A lot of times the cities already have robust communications networks whereas the rural areas don’t have that much to start with.”

IBM though is confident the project will succeed, mostly because the company has already had practice implementing smart grid systems.

“We’re not doing this in a vacuum,” Valocchi said. “We are really drawing on some of the experiences that we have learned from our smart grid projects around the world.”

Innovating In Korea

The Korea project, on the other hand, will act as a testing ground for IBM and its partner Korea Electric Power Company (KEPCO).

The project will include construction of a Total Operations Center at a demonstration complex, which will act as a central hub for collecting and managing data from the smart grid system. If successful, IBM said in a statement, it will be a “model that can be utilized by energy and utility companies worldwide during smart grid transformations.”

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Common Infrastructure Model (CIM) will also be integrated into the Korean project and is innovate standardized software solutions that can be used in global deployment of smart grid.

“We are truly using this as a test bed that can drive changes and can accelerate the growth, from a smart grid perspective,” Valocchi said.