Explore the Pursuit of the Power Grid

In the pursuit of the power grid’s evolution, industry researchers are hard at work developing and implementing new “smart grid” innovations to solve today’s greatest power challenges.

The North American electrical grid is the world’s largest machine, and upgrading can be a highly complex task.  This grid – or more accurately, multiple grids -- includes more than 200,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines serving United States and parts of Canada Mexico.  Portions of the grid are more than 100 years old, with components such as transformers, switches, and connectors that are similar to what they were in 1890. Naturally, this yields questions surrounding reliability, efficiency, and environmental efficacy. In today’s world, the evolution of the grid is a major necessity and focus of today’s power industry leaders.

In the pursuit of the power grid’s evolution, industry researchers are hard at work developing and implementing new “smart grid” innovations to solve today’s greatest power challenges.  Dr. Mietek Glinkowski, Director of Technology for ABB North America, oversees numerous strategic initiatives for cutting-edge technologies related to wind power, data centers, and the smart grid.

“There is strong demand for finding better ways to integrate renewables, to manage unprecedented massive levels of data consumption – “big data” – and to build a transmission and distribution system that is consistently reliable, efficient and secure – all at the same time!” exclaimed Glinkowski.  “But, that requires the development of a new type of grid, a ‘smarter grid.’  Instead of using power from a single-source direction flow, the grid needs to integrate sources from many different directions. To do so, new technologies are required.”

The convergence of hardware and software is driving new technologies that represent the first steps in the whole chain of developments necessary to achieving the smart grid. One such example is ABB’s GridSync. The monitoring system measures activity within a distribution line and delivers data to a monitoring system, so that utilities know when they lose a line.

ABB’s recent HVDC breaker achievement – a 100 year breakthrough creating the world’s first high voltage DC-powered breaker that Glinkowski calls “Edison’s Revenge” –  presents new opportunities to integrate renewables, realize efficiency, and generate direct benefits for industry customers and end users.  This HVDC breaker enables the delivery of remote renewable energy to cities and industries from thousands of miles away.

Dr. Glinkowski will share his unique insights, passions, and the latest innovations impacting the nation’s power grid during the ABB Automation & Power World (APW) expo in Orlando next week (March 25-28). Glinkowski will join 7 other ABB subject matter experts as part of ABB’s Brainy Bunch – a live webcast forum where these experts will discuss emerging power and automation issues.

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