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Computing giant IBM and French electric utility EDF will together research ways to boost the efficiency of power plants and modernize electricity infrastructure, IBM announced today. The collaboration puts them in the thick of what’s known as the smart grid industry, a potentially $65 billion market […]

Computing giant IBM and French electric utility EDF will together research ways to boost the efficiency of power plants and modernize electricity infrastructure, IBM announced today. The collaboration puts them in the thick of what’s known as the smart grid industry, a potentially $65 billion market whose key players include IT, energy, and utility companies. Their goal: Harness wasted energy and untapped data to create an ultra-efficient, dynamic power network that allows energy — and information — to flow both ways.

With smart grid tech, the power grid can more easily accommodate, say, a home with solar panels on its roof feeding unused energy back into the general power supply. If something like the Better Place infrastructure project in California, or for that matter, EDF’s own partnership with Renault in France, goes nationwide, all of those plug-ins could put a big strain on power supplies — unless a more “intelligent” grid allows cars to give and take juice from the grid according to when electricity is needed most.

IBM is hardly a new entrant in this field. It is a member of industry groups including GridWise Alliance, Global Intelligent Utility Network Coalition, and the Demand and Response Smart Grid Coalition (which Google also joined recently), and it has been working with utility companies for years.

Working with EDF basically gives IBM a massive laboratory in which to build out its technology, creating, as IBM Energy and Utilities research chief Ron Ambrosio described it to Greentech Media, “a very large system of systems.” That’s reminiscent of another innovation that’s attained a bit of popularity: the network of networks, aka the Internet.

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  3. IBM Snags More Utilities for Smart Grid Tech « Earth2Tech Wednesday, November 26, 2008

    [...] Fehrenbacher No Comments Posted November 26th, 2008 at 12:00 am in Energy On the heels of IBM announcing it’s working with French electric utility EDF on smart grid research, the computing giant says today that it is also working with utilities [...]

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  5. IBM Snags More Utilities for Smart Grid Tech Wednesday, November 26, 2008

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  6. Heavy Snowfall, With a Chance of Smart Grid « Earth2Tech Monday, December 22, 2008

    [...] Climate change is going to mean more significant weather events, from hurricanes to snowstorms, and while other utilities pursue what EnergyBiz calls a “hardening approach” — clearing trees and brush from around powerlines and reinforcing delivery infrastructure — utilities that use the smart grid approach are able to spot outages more quickly and send out repair crews to the right spots, right away. Even better, the approach could play a role in minimizing climate change — and its stormy side effects — by making power delivery cleaner and more efficient. [...]

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