Microsoft (MSFT), Agder Energi to Collaborate on Cloud-Powered Intelligent Grid

October 6, 2016 5:57 AM EDT

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Thursday at Nordic Edge Expo, Agder Energi, Microsoft Corp. and Powel AS announced a pilot project that will help create a more efficient, flexible and intelligent grid of the future.

The project will leverage intelligent technology to create a cutting-edge smart grid solution that will prepare the grid for greater renewable integration and help keep pace with growing energy consumption. The Microsoft Azure intelligent cloud, PowerBI and Azure IoT Hub were combined with expertise from Powel to provide Agder Energi with tools to improve dispatch of new energy resources, including device controls and predictive forecasting for situational awareness.

"At Agder Energi we want to use new technology to make the power grid more efficient, more predictable and more flexible. We will go from being energy generators to energy partners, with a more active role for our customers," said Agder Energi's CEO Tom Nysted. "Together with our partners at Microsoft and Powel, we will use innovation to solve the challenges facing the grid."

While energy technologies have made tremendous advances in the past decade, electrical grids around the world have not. Power grids already require massive investments to keep pace with growing energy consumption; they are now challenged to leverage new resources — distributed energy systems like rooftop solar panels, batteries, smart homes and facilities — that can help provide support back to the grid in times of high demand.

The pilot will demonstrate how utilities can implement intelligent cloud-based smart grid solutions to unlock a host of energy and sustainability benefits. This solution will enable energy savings and easier integration of renewable energy to the grid mix, while also saving consumers money by reducing expensive peak power use and capital investment.

"We are applying our strong domain expertise and acting as the integration and forecasting partner in this project to seamlessly integrate Agder's SCADA to the Azure IoT Hub, provide demand forecasts, and production forecasts for wind and solar in the region," said Powel's CEO Bård Benum. "We are thrilled to be working closely together with Agder Energi and Microsoft to help enable radical innovation in the utility sector."

The pilot will be operated at an Agder Energi substation that is currently operating at 120 percent of its capacity a number of times throughout the year. The technology will enable operators to better predict demand and engage distributed resources, thereby reducing the demand on the substation and saving money that would otherwise be needed to upgrade. Eventually, the partners expect to build on these results to perform automatic balancing of renewable energy and peak load control in near real time.

"Renewable energy resources and advancements in intelligent cloud technology are driving a digital transformation of grid operations to explore new business models," said Kevin Dallas, Microsoft Corporate Vice President, IoT Business Development. "Enabling solutions like Agder's will accelerate widespread renewable and distributed power generation. It's a bright future for the utility industry and for a sustainable world."

Relevance to Norway

While the project focuses on a single substation that faces loading challenges, this is not a unique problem. Indeed, this is a problem experienced across the Norwegian market. Widespread adoption of grid management software that effectively manages new energy sources as a network of IoT resources has the potential to ameliorate costs of new hardware infrastructure for the Norwegian grid. The partners aim to demonstrate a digital transformation that will allow others in the industry to look to Norway as a leading example on energy and IoT.



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