Quantum Computing

Atomic Computing and National Renewable Energy Laboratory Explore Electrical Network Optimization Using Quantum Computing

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Insider Summary

  • Atomic Computing will collaborate with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to explore how quantum computing can optimize power grids.
  • Scientists show “quantum-in-the-loop” capabilities that can run certain types of optimization problems on quantum computers.
  • The optimization problem is considered a “killer app” for quantum computing.

PERS CONFERENCE – Atomic Computing and the US Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) today announced a collaboration to explore how quantum computing can help optimize the operation of electrical grids.

During this week General meeting of the IEEE Power and Energy SocietyNREL researchers demonstrate how they incorporate Atom Computing’s atomic quantum computing technology into the lab Advanced Research on Integrated Energy System research platform (ARIES). and it hardware in loop testing to create the first kind of “quantum-in-the-loop” capability that can run certain kinds of optimization problems on quantum computers.

Dr. Rob Hovsapian, research adviser at NREL, calls this new capability an important step toward understanding how quantum computers can better balance energy loads across the power grid.

“Power grids are getting more complex as we add new sources of electricity generation such as wind and solar, charging electric vehicles, sensors and other devices,” he said. “We reached a point where the power grid has more inputs and outputs than what our classical computing model can handle. By incorporating quantum computing into our test platform, we can begin to explore how this technology can help solve specific problems.”

Optimization problems such as managing supply chains, designing more efficient transport routes, and improving power grids and telecommunications networks are considered “deadly applications” for quantum computing. This is a large-scale problem with many factors and variables involved, which makes it a perfect match for quantum computers and the way they carry out calculations.

Keeping power flowing across the power grid is a good example of an optimization problem. Power plants, wind turbines and solar farms must produce enough electricity to meet demand, which can fluctuate depending on the time of day and weather conditions. This electricity is then routed across miles of transmission lines and delivered to homes, businesses, hospitals and other facilities in real time.

Initially, NREL and Atomic Computing explored how quantum computing could improve decision-making on power re-routing between feeder lines that carry electricity from substations to local or regional service areas in the event of switch or line downtime.

“Right now, operators are primarily relying on their own experience to make these decisions,” said Hovsapian. “This works but doesn’t necessarily result in an optimal solution. We are currently evaluating how quantum computers can provide better data to make these decisions.”

Atom Computing CEO Rob Hays called the project an important example of how private industry and national laboratories can collaborate on quantum computing technology and the development of valuable use cases.

“Collaborations like this are critical to advancing quantum computing and scientific research,” said Hays. “NREL is a global leader in renewable energy and grid electricity. We are proud to partner with them to advance their research.”

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