GridSynergy plans software modules for water and gas utilities


GridSynergy plans software modules for water and gas utilities

Greentech Lead India: GridSynergy is looking into
software modules for water and gas utilities that have the same peak demand
issues as electric utilities. GridSynergy CTO Vic Shao talks about
potential in the market and the company’s future plans. GCN’s GreenStation and
GridSynergy technology helps commercial businesses flatten their energy profile
throughout the day to avoid these demand charges and the impact is tremendous.

What are the current markets served by GCN? Explain the
potential of these markets. 

GridSynergy focuses on helping electric utilities around the country improve
reliability and efficiency of the grid. Increased demand on the grid from
residential and commercial accounts has many utilities around the country
scrambling to keep up. 

Between 1985 and 2004, commercial consumption grew by 50
percent. Today, total annual energy expenditures in the
commercial real estate sector stand at $22 billion, total retail energy
consumption accounts for $7 billion and
restaurant energy consumption is $10.5 billion per
year. Electricity is growing as the primary energy source by commercial
buildings. According to the Buildings Energy Data Book published by NETL,
electricity is around 80 percent of the commercial sector’s overall energy use,
and it is growing at between 1.1 percent and 1.5 percent per year until 2030.

To keep up with this increase in demand, utilities often resort to extremely
costly hardware upgrades to expand capacity. In addition to billions of dollars
in expenses annually, infrastructure upgrades also take a long time to plan and
implement, and can be extremely disruptive. 

How do utilities and businesses react to the demand for greater quality in
energy management? What are the measures adopted by them to meet these

Better energy management goals by the commercial sector
are very much shared by the electric utilities. The U.S. electric
transmission and distribution grids cannot scale up fast enough to accommodate
the accelerated pace of electrical consumption. Many utilities have started to
implement demand response systems to help regulate electrical demand during
high peak situations. Likewise, many large corporations have taken to energy
management systems to reduce their own demand. However, this system is not yet
seamless. For example, small businesses often don’t use enough electricity to quality
for the demand response programs. With GCN’s GridSynergy, multiple small
businesses can aggregate their loads and respond to demand response events in
unison, thus qualifying for the utility’s minimum load threshold. 

How does GridSynergy help businesses improve energy efficiency? How do your
technologies fit into these requirements?  

Throughout the day, a typical business has great
fluctuation in their energy consumption. Demand spikes, that can occur when
high-powered electrical equipment (such as HVAC, foodservice or electric
vehicle chargers) turns on, can be very costly.  Businesses are billed
“demand charges” for these electricity spikes. GCN’s GreenStation and
GridSynergy technology helps commercial businesses flatten their energy profile
throughout the day to avoid these demand charges and the impact is tremendous.
For example, GCN found that 7-Eleven spent $210 million on electricity in 2010,
of which $45 million in demand charges. By using our technology, 7-eleven could
have used the same number of Kilowatts, while saving as much as $30 million
that year alone. This results in ongoing savings on operating costs that can
run millions of dollars each year. Importantly, it reduces the electricity bill
in ways that are invisible to the customer and the facility.  

What are the main challenges faced by GCN in its effort to offer the best
solutions to customers? 

Utilities have a long history of implementing hardware
solutions to meet increased demand. Oftentimes, these infrastructure upgrades
have been planned for many years and take equally long to complete. Using a
software solution instead is a completely new concept for utilities, which
requires a change in mindset and budgets.

What impact has GCN’s BPM implementation had in areas of smart meters and other
network enabled devices?

GridSynergy takes data from all the smart meters,
photovoltaic systems and other network enabled devices and analyzes the current
status of the grid in real time. The system visualizes the operating area to
identify potential hotspots and provides recommendations on avoiding any
potential overload problems. Oftentimes, utilities have made excellent progress
in the implementation of smart meters, but aren’t yet doing much with the
information they gather. GCN’s software helps them “be smart” with
the data they have available to them — prompting further implementation of
smart meters and other smart grid resources. 

How do you expect the energy management market to evolve in the next couple of
years? What are the new technologies likely to evolve to support the smart grid


Energy management is crucial to avoid infrastructure
upgrades’ current strain on the economy (hundreds of billions of dollars a
year). Energy storage, load leveling, integration of renewable energy sources
and demand response will all grow in importance.  

Is the market favorable to new entrants?

Yes, the growth of electric demand requires a system wide
and long-term solution. Both commercial businesses and utilities are very open
to solutions that are cost-effective and reliable.  

How do you position yourself in the current market?

We strongly believe in finding ways to involve the entire
electricity distribution chain, from electric utility to end user. As such, our
products (GridSynergy and GreenStation) provide a way for businesses to reduce
their electricity bill and for utilities to avoid expensive hardware

Any immediate expansion plans to new markets? 

We are constantly working on expanding and improving
GridSynergy. Current modules include GridSynergy Intelligence (a module that
analyzes grid assets to have an up-to-date analysis of the grid), GridSynergy
Execution (a module that provides recommendations on avoiding grid outages,
executes on approved recommendations and reports back to the operations center)
and GridSynergy Client (a module for commercial businesses to avoid demand
charges). We will continue to roll out modules. Additionally, we’re looking
into software modules for water and gas utilities that have the same peak
demand issues as electric utilities. Smarter software would improve efficiency
here as well.  

Baburajan Kizhakedath