Smart grid: IBM Research teams with Indian Institute of Technology

New Delhi, November 16, 2010 — IBM has signed a research collaboration agreement with IIT Madras and IIT Kharagpur to develop systems that will help power grids become more efficient and resilient.

The systems will analyze power grid data for predictive insights. They will also improve grids to enhance productivity and reduce inefficiencies in power consumption.

IBM Research — India will work with these two premiere institutes to develop open system designs that can boost the potential of Phasor Measurement Units, a new type of sensor on power grids.

The IBM researchers and the students will develop network architectures to reliably collect data from PMUs as well as analytics tools that process the collected data to provide valuable information to the grid operators.

The knowledge and insights gained from this collaborative research work will be made publicly available, in order to allow governments and businesses around the world to take advantage of the PMU technology.

According to the International Energy Agency the global demand for electricity is expected to increase significantly during the period from 2006 to 2030 — 1.1 percent per year on average in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. In comparison, increases are 7.6 percent in China and about 6 percent in India per year. 

This rising demand increases stress on grids, thereby growing the chances of power outages. To prevent such outages and their impact on productivity, it is important to make the grid more intelligent by adding sensing, control and communication components.

IIT Kharagpur will be primarily involved in developing the new power system applications and software systems for the project. While, IIT Madras will focus on the networking architecture to ensure that the data collected from different locations is appropriately transmitted to one location.

A test bed will be developed to connect IBM Research labs and both the institutes to emulate a smart grid network. The test bed will be utilized to evaluate the network architecture and the open system designs in real-life scenarios.

“Existing power grids are facing technical challenges because of their outdated design and growing loads,” said Prof. A.K. Sinha from IIT Kharagpur. “Through our knowledge in the power system application domain and IBM’s expertise our students will work towards developing an innovative grid management application to make the power grid more reliable.”

“One of the key elements of a smart grid is secure and high-speed communication networks,” said Prof. Krishna Sivalingam from IIT Madras. “The association is not only a step towards addressing this pressing requirement but also a platform for our students to work with the research veterans from IBM and get a real-life problem solving and application development experience.”

The project is part of IBM’s Open Collaborative Research (OCR) program, an initiative to foster innovation through university-industry research collaboration. 

This partnership with IIT Madras and IIT Kharagpur is the fourth engagement of its kind. IBM recently announced its collaboration with IIT Bombay. Also this year, IBM announced an OCR project with the National Institute of Design. It was preceded by an OCR engagement with the Indian School of Business.

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