As the world shifts away from its dependency on fossil fuels and toward renewables for energy generation, there is an ever-growing strain put on our aging energy grid. One bottleneck to maximizing the usage of renewable sources is the transmission grid—those big power lines you see running down the side of the highway and over the hills.
This key component of the grid is not currently capable of easily throttling up or down throughput to match the intermittency of power generated from big solar or wind farms.
Today, grid operators either have to build out expensive new lines or curtail the generation of power from these new renewable sources. Recognizing an opportunity to optimize the existing grid, San Francisco-based solutions company Smart Wires has developed the PowerLine Guardian, a distributed technology that enables utilities to better monitor and dynamically control the flow of power across transmission lines.
Featuring an embedded 3G modem from Qualcomm Technologies Inc., the PowerLine Guardian is a great example of how intelligent connectivity can enable power companies to optimize existing infrastructure by making transmission lines “smart.”
Each module clamps directly on transmissions lines and enables operators to wirelessly control impedance to push power away from heavily loaded lines to those with more capacity.
The Qualcomm Smart Cities team has long envisioned that cellular technology would be a key driver in connecting smart energy applications. Smart Wires is taking advantage of this ubiquitous network coverage to send data captured from the PowerLine Guardian modules to their PowerLine Commander control and data aggregation software. This software directly integrates into a utility company’s existing Energy Management System (EMS) and features a graphical user interface, data aggregator and logger, and alert generator that grid operators use to manage their PowerLine Guardian fleet.
Currently deployed with the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Georgia Power Company, as well as Irish utility EirGrid, Smart Wires is helping power companies maximize existing grid infrastructure to improve grid resiliency, lower energy costs, better integrate renewable energy sources and ultimately build a truly dynamic grid. Learn more about SmartWires here. Learn how the Qualcomm Smart Cities team is reimagining the role of technology and connectivity in today’s cities here.