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Posted: Jan 29, 2013

Startup plans to build a next-generation power grid that looks like the Internet

(Nanowerk News) Founded in 2010, Gridco Systems is introducing a new class of intelligent power distribution solutions that enable utilities to meet the evolving demands of the 21st century electric grid. Our solutions leverage recent advances in power electronics in combination with distributed intelligent control systems to dynamically manage power distribution below the substation with an unprecedented level of predictability and precision.
Gridco Systems was founded to realize the opportunity created by two intersecting long-term market and technology trends:
Transformation of the Distribution Grid
Utility-scale power distribution has historically been characterized by predictable, unidirectional power flows from generating plants to loads. Such power flows enabled utilities to architect distribution feeders with relatively few sensing and control points; those few located primarily at the sub-station. Today, trends such as distributed renewable generation, electric vehicle adoption, and demand for enhanced power quality services for sensitive loads, are driving the need for fundamental transformation of the electric grid. These trends are causing power flows to become less predictable, increasingly rendering existing utility-scale power management equipment incapable of regulating power to within prescribed service assurance standards. Though distributed sensing and communications technologies are necessary components of the solution, and indeed have been the primary focus of investment over the last decade, the full value of these technologies can only be realized once power flows can be actively and dynamically managed in response to grid telemetry. Fortunately, such a solution is imminently upon us, one that is fundamentally enabled by recent advances in power electronics.
Advances in Power Electronics
Since the invention of the transistor in 1947, advances in power electronics have rendered benefits in almost every industry imaginable. Audio amplifiers, cellular communications, microwave ovens, plasma TVs, compact battery chargers, fluorescent lamps, hybrid electric vehicles, electric trains, and converters for photo-voltaic or wind generation systems are just a few of the products and applications enabled, in large part, by advances in power electronics. Recent industry reports estimate the worldwide power electronics market to reach $130B in 2015. Despite this broad adoption, power electronics presently have only limited application within utility-scale power distribution systems. Over the last decade, however, technology advances in materials, devices, and packaging have demonstrated the commercial viability of power conversion systems exhibiting the stringent reliability, efficiency, and power scale dictated by utility-oriented applications, thereby finally paving the way for the application of power electronics to what will be ultimately its largest market the electric grid.
Realizing the Vision
Gridco Systems is introducing a new class of utility-scale power distribution solutions that combine power-flow management platforms with software-based intelligent control capabilities. Gridco Systems solutions allow utilities to dynamically, adaptively, and precisely regulate voltage, manage VARs, compensate for harmonics, and rapidly contain line faults. The result is greater system reliability and security, enhanced customer service, higher efficiency, and stable integration of emerging resources including distributed generation, plug-in electric vehicles, and energy storage.
Source: Gridco Systems
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