‘Artificial intelligence’ system to manage Auckland’s electricity

Published on the 02/11/2017 | Written by Newsdesk

Artificial intelligence to manage Vector

Is it AI? Or is it just software…

It’s not SkyNet, but an intelligent network is underway in Auckland as energy group Vector looks to Israeli company mPrest to develop and apply a machine learning and artificial intelligence system that will better manage energy demands. mPrest has substantial cred: it provides the battle management and weapon control system behind the awfully clever Iron Dome system which defends Israel from Palestinian rocket attacks.

In a statement, Vector said the mDERMS programme monitors, analyses and controls Auckland’s energy network. The system was developed by Vector and mPrest, and connects traditional electricity infrastructure (like lines and substations) with emerging alternatives such as solar and battery energy solutions.

The software, said Vector’s statement, uses integration, artificial intelligence and analytics to manage electricity demand and network data across Auckland, as well as enabling monitoring and control capabilities as the network grows.

New, typically nominally ‘green’ assets like solar and batteries are known in the energy industry as DERs: Distributed Energy Resources.

Right now, Vector said it has almost 3,500 solar panel connections, 700 battery connections and 30 electric vehicle chargers installed across Auckland. By 2020, Vector said it expects to have about 40,000 DERs connected to the grid.

mDERMS is described by the energy company as ‘an overlaying ’system-of-systems’ that integrates, oversees, manages, and makes use of DERs and their controlling systems on Vector’s electricity network’. It integrates DERs with traditional infrastructure onto one platform to optimise a now more complex energy system for consumers.

So confident is Vector in the capability of the system that it has entered into an investment and reselling agreement with mPrest to assist the company with expanding its reach throughout Australasia.

Simon Mackenzie, Chief Executive Officer of Vector said with the transformation of the energy sector in mind, the company is ‘leading the development of new customer solutions using our existing expertise in running energy systems combined with advanced technology and international partners’.

Vector said the smart grid of the future will be less like an ‘electron corridor’ (perhaps the electricity industry’s equivalent of networking’s ’dumb pipes’), and more like a vibrant energy marketplace. ‘mDERMS will enable this marketplace to exist, allowing our communities and business access to different sources of energy when and where they need it, and at the cheapest price possible’.

mDERMS is also able to adapt for integration with future DERs and systems in the energy sector.

Said Mackenzie, “This ‘internet of energy’ platform capability is world-leading and is seen globally as the next big advancement in energy system evolution. It means that from Vector’s control room, with one operating system, our engineers can better predict and manage outages by optimising DERs to enable a streamlined, efficient delivery of energy to and from the grid.”

The capability hasn’t yet been a possible, Mackenzie added. “This helps ‘democratise’ energy, enabling customers to easily access low cost energy and control different network inputs to optimise their energy use and cost.”

But is it AI? You be the judge.

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