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The future of energy relies on cloud computing, data mining and the Internet of Things

Published:05 September 2013

Dr Shawkat Ali

Cloud computing, data mining and even the Internet of Things are becoming essential to the incorporation of renewable energies like solar and wind into traditional power delivery systems.

That's according to 'Smart Grid' specialist Dr Shawkat Ali from CQUniversity, who has done an online interview with one of the world's largest professional organisations, IEEE (the Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers).

He notes an International Energy Agency prediction that world electricity demand will likely double between 2000 and 2030.

"The Smart Grid concept will help us save our wonderful, beautiful green world," Dr Ali says in his interview.

"It will enable us to improve the (electricity) grid's efficiency and incorporate renewables so society can meet these demands in a way that minimises carbon emissions and reduces electricity's environmental impact."

Dr Ali says the Smart Grid concept represents a combination of traditional grid and modern information and communication technologies.

"We have the technology. We just need to integrate existing systems.

"For instance, in my office, we are monitoring how much power one of our campus buildings consumes every day from solar, wind and even coal and we are viewing the data on a commercially available display."

Dr Ali says that dealing with the quantity of data generated by Smart Grids is an important challenge.

"Smart Grid is creating a wonderful database that is a resource for monitoring the system and even solving operational problems. But the database needs to comprehensive. We need a very good database for every section of the grid."

Dr Ali says the integration of renewable resources into the traditional power grid can impair the functioning of the transmission system and this issue is creating new challenges for power engineers.

He suggests using computational intelligence (CI) for both short-term and long-term load forecasting, and for helping utilities respond to outages caused by natural disasters.

"Utilities can use CI to optimise the real-time process of purchasing energy from multiple suppliers based on price, variable rate and other data," Dr Ali says.

He says utilities will rely on data mining techniques to develop knowledge from the Smart Grid raw data and that the Internet of Things (which brings connectivity to any object) will play a significant role in Smart Grids.

"It will be used to monitor the security of the Smart Grid, to manage end user interactions, and many other things," he says.

Dr Ali is an IEE Smart Grid Technical Expert, a senior member of IEEE and an active member of the IEEE Queensland section. You can read the full interview via http://smartgrid.ieee.org/questions-and-answers

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(Click on image thumbnail to see full-size image) Dr Shawkat Ali