New technology maximizes grid capacity, eliminating power outages


San Francisco, June 6, 2002 — Breaking new ground in the area of electrical system reliability, EleQuant, Inc. recently unveiled technology that uses a new approach designed to improve the reliability and efficiency of electric grid operations.

“Electricity reliability is a major problem in the U.S. and around the world,” said Roberto Torres, an analyst with Frost & Sullivan. “The smartest and quickest way to improve reliability is to maximize grid capacity through improved technologies.”

EleQuantà¢â€ž-‘s main energy product, Advanced Grid Observation Reliable Algorithms (AGORA), allows power system operators to effectively simulate the activity on a power grid under any condition, allowing for more accurate operations and planning.

The system provides much more effective modeling for grid operators than conventional tools offer, even with just partial information about grid conditions.

“Our research, and our customers, tells us that conventional tools will not deliver the reliable, accurate system information that our product provides on a minute-to-minute basis,” said Regina Llopis-Rivas, EleQuant’s CEO.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) became EleQuant’s first U.S. customer when the utility purchased AGORA in 2001 to help manage its 18,000-mile transmission system. Utility companies in Spain, including Red Electrica de Espana S.A. and the Endesa Holding, also use the sophisticated management software at control centers in Madrid, Barcelona and Seville.

AGORA provides grid operators with:

“- Real-time monitoring and observation tools
“- Voltage collapse assessment and optimal restoration analysis
“- System-wide or localized disturbance restoration tool
“- Powerful, fast and reliable load flow and state estimator
“- Minimizes losses on the grid
“- Highly reliable grid modeling tool
“- Load forecast calculation
“- Contingency analysis

For more than 30 years, the Newton-Raphson method has been used industry-wide as a tool to analyze the behavior of electrical power systems. However, the Newton-Raphson method can provide incorrect information that could result in inaccurate system planning, especially in more complex electrical systems.

Groundbreaking work by engineers at GRUPO AIA, the Barcelona-based parent company of US-based EleQuant, created AGORA, a solution that provides 100 percent convergence in normal operations and 100 percent convergence in the vicinity of voltage collapse and disturbances.

By contrast, Newton-Raphson will provide 90 percent convergence in normal operations and no convergence in the vicinity of voltage collapse.

“Newton-Raphson can give wrong answers, but our solution will never give a wrong answer,” said Llopis-Rivas, a UC Berkeley-trained mathematician. “AGORA tells system operators with much greater accuracy how far the system can be pushed without resulting in voltage collapse or other system disturbances.”

Unlike solutions using Newton-Raphson, AGORA guarantees that grid operators are never making decisions based on incorrect information, dramatically increasing the reliability of the electrical grid. The load flow and state estimator tools ensure that incorrect information coming from the field is immediately detected.

With real-time information flowing in at all times and properly estimated, operators are able to quickly react to any changes in the grid — often within minutes.

In December 1998, the San Francisco Bay Area suffered a blackout that lasted nearly all day and resulted in a loss of power to more than one million residents. Research shows that had PG&E been using AGORA in 1998, power would have been more quickly restored after that blackout, cutting restoration time from 12 hours to 4 hours in some cases.

“Disturbance management has always been a major problem for electrical companies,” said Llopis-Rivas. “Until now, no effective solutions were available. AGORA provides operators with a powerful tool to analyze, plan for and manage electric system disturbances – both planned and unplanned.”

Utilities and other organizations responsible for managing the nation’s power grid can reduce the staff time needed for analysis and planning activities. Utilities regularly take equipment out of service for maintenance and must prepare plans that maintain the normal flow of power and avoid any disruption to the customers.

Using AGORA’s load flow tools, an organization could reduce the required engineering staff hours by 90 percent (from several days to several minutes). AIA researchers estimate, using AGORA, a small size utility could save nearly $1 million annually by minimizing interruptions of power.

About EleQuant
Founded in 1988 and based in Barcelona, Spain, GRUPO AIA is a technology and software development company that specializes in solving complex problems for the energy, banking and telecommunications industries.

AIA’s energy management division has developed new technology for real-time intelligent observation and management of electricity flow. Public and private power companies use the company’s solutions to dramatically improve efficiency of electricity generation, transmission and distribution.

In 2002, the company launched its U.S. operations with the formation of EleQuant, headquartered in San Francisco. EleQuant will focus on providing the company’s energy products to utilities, independent system operators, regional transmission operators and other organizations involved with management of electricity grids in the U.S. and Canada. EleQuant Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of GRUPO AIA.


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