Intel gets behind smart grids

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Speaking at his keynote at Oracle OpenWorld, Intel chief executive Paul Otellini told delegates that his company was supporting a new effort to build an intelligent electricity grid.

He introduced Erfan Ibrahim, from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a non profit foundation that is funded by electricity companies to promote better power efficiency.

The EPRI is starting a new five year project to build a $20 million test bed network which takes power from a variety of sources and balances it into usable supply. This would be a mixture of traditional power supplier and variable ones, such as renewable energy like wind.

“The smart grid is a mix of communications technologies and energy efficient designs,” said Ibrahim.

“They allow you to set up demand response programs to reduce the need for generation units. It also allows you to add in electrical systems like photovoltaic energy and balance them out.”

He said that open and compatible standards were essential for the system to work. Standards like WiMax could move the grid from a theoretical exercise to concrete examples of how to cut costs.

Otellini said that power efficiency was going to be one of the key drivers for businesses use of technology in the future, not just because it was good for the environment but also good for the bottom line.
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