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⚡ "Improving Grid/Transmission Infrastructure with IoT"

CleanTechies: The Podcast

Photo by Julius Drost / Unsplash

Host: Silas Mähner
Guest: Tim Barat | CEO & Co-Founder | Gridware
Category: ⚡ Renewable Energy

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[4:09] “Gridware builds hardware and software, which can detect when and where the power grid will fail before it can ignite catastrophic wildfires. And we do that with a hardware device that we've built to permanently attach to utility poles, essentially, putting alignment on every single pole now. Because right now, linemen spend a lot of time searching for faults instead of fixing them. There's a lot of signal and a lot happens when something goes wrong on the grid, but you have to be in the right place at the right time. And unfortunately, you're never at the right place at the right time.”

[6:39] “Most equipment on the grid is operated to failure. […] When something goes wrong, there's an adage, you might have 1,000 customers offline, you get a call from dispatch, fix it. And that's pretty much all the information that you get. And say, you start in the middle, you divide and conquer, you build up a general intuition about your infrastructure in your territory. […] But really, you have to be a detective most of the time. So these are some of the challenges that we're trying to help solve.”

[9:28] “Nine out of the top 20 catastrophic fires in California were ignited by the grid. […] How they're responding to that […] is with public safety power shut-offs. So during periods where there's elevated winds and high fire risk, utilities switch off the grid, because they'd rather have an outage than a fire. And that's also expensive. In 2019, we had a three week long outage. For every day, there was $100 million in economic impact.

[10:14] “The federal administration has just signed […] a $1.2 trillion bill, that's going to go to infrastructure. I think the challenge is that that money is not going to be spent in the right places. Because there isn't any data to make those decisions about where you do deploy that […] or very little amounts of data. And so we really want to help to understand causality.”

[16:13] “We've placed a lot of emphasis on local processing on the device. We've seen huge capability enhancements to the micro processors. […] We're taking a lot of those advances and applying it to this problem, where you can derive these insights without having to exfiltrate a lot of data to the cloud. This is the big challenge, because any sensing unit out in the field, right now […] the most popular method of doing things is let's put dumb sensors out into the field, exfiltrate a lot of data, and then do the processing, run it through a black box on the cloud. But we are doing things differently. […] We deeply understand the signals associated with these failure modes. And this allows us to build algorithms that only work on a device. And then you only have to exfiltrate, when something's wrong. […] And when you switch to this mode of operation, you can explore other ways of communication, without having the necessity of cellular communication.”

[25:52] “Two key achievements changed life, as we know, over the past two decades: the internet and computation ability to process large amounts of data. So this transformed countless numbers of industries, but sadly, not energy and utilities. So we want to change that by extending Internet technologies and this modern computation to the grid. And this will allow us to meet the 21st century grid goals, decarbonation, sustainability, reliability challenges. And we can do that now with data driven decisions.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 54 min | 🗓️ 01/20/2022
✅ Time saved: 52 min

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