IBM has launched a new research collaboration model called the Smarter Energy Research Institute, with the aim of spurring on innovation across the global energy and utilities market.
Utility companies Hydro-Québec from Canada, Alliander from the Netherlands, and DTE Energy from the US have become the first members of the Smarter Energy Research Institute.
According to IBM, the combination of its corporate research expertise with the energy and utilities industry will aim to transform energy companies, allowing them to use predictive analytics, system optimisation and advanced computation to deliver better services to customers.
IBM said its global research division will be pooling its expertise in the areas of mathematical sciences, computer science and high-performance computing with the power and engineering knowledge of the participating members.
The institute will be zeroing in on five innovation tracks and members will be able to choose what areas to focus on. The five areas include outage planning optimisation to help reduce the time customers are without power – timely when you think of storms such as Superstorm Sandy which hit the US east coast and Canada over the past few days, resulting in power outages for millions of homes.
Other focus areas of the Smarter Energy Research Institute will include asset management optimisation, the integration of renewables and distributed energy resources, the detection of anomalies across electricity grids in real-time and an engagement model to help utilities transform relationships with their customers.
IBM believes that the expected outcomes of the research will include giving members the ability to create prediction models to anticipate, days in advance, the impact of a storm on the electrical grid and to put resources in place to restore power outages faster.
"Our mission is about bringing research and the energy industry closer together to work jointly on areas critical to the industry’s transformation, and for members to become major beneficiaries in extracting value from the information and communication technology revolution," said Dr Dario Gil, director of the Smarter Energy Research Institute and director of energy and natural resources at IBM Research.