Quantum Computing

Atomic Computing and US NREL Partners to Add Quantum Optimization to Electrical Grid Operations

By Carolyn Mathas

A collaborative agreement on using quantum computing to better optimize the operation of power grids was recently signed Atomic Computing And US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Growing trends in network expansion including bringing in new power sources such as wind and solar, and widespread applications such as electric vehicle charging are creating greater complexity than classical computing models can handle. While today’s network operators rely on experience to make network optimization decisions, Atom and NREL are exploring how quantum computing can provide a more optimized way to make those decisions.

“Power levels are increasing, so are resources, the ability to route power, the number of smart devices and charging stations—the whole world uses electricity. They need help beyond human decisions,” said Rob Hays, President and CEO of Atom Computing. “That is where quantum computing platforms can be integrated as energy networks get higher in complexity and energy networks,” he added.

At a recent general meeting of the IEEE Power and Energy Society, NREL researchers demonstrated how Atomic atomic array quantum computing technology is incorporated into the laboratory’s Advanced Research on Integrated Energy Systems (ARIES) research platform and in-loop hardware testing. The combination creates the first-of-its-kind “quantum-in-the-loop” capability.

Rob Hovsapian, Ph.D., Research Advisor at NREL said, “We have built Digital Real-Time Simulation (DRTS) emulation capabilities with hardware controllers in loop devices. This will allow us to emulate real-world devices, including communication protocols, at communication speeds in a controlled laboratory environment. We will start with 600 devices today and hope to increase to 5,000 and eventually 10,000 devices by the end of 2024.”

“Integrating quantum computing into ARIES-DRTS will create powerful capabilities for conducting communication risk assessments and evaluating secure communications. This integration increases the overall power and effectiveness of the system, offering invaluable insights for the next generation of energy systems,” said Hovsapian.

The NREL ARIES platform provides the ability to simulate actual energy networks and various scenarios, figuring out what decisions they can make for power distribution across the network. This is the first time that quantum computing has been implemented on the existing ARIES platform. This will help to gain new insights and ways of looking at optimization problems so they can have a better overall solution.

This project is an important example of how private industry and national laboratories can collaborate on the use of quantum computing and the development of use cases. Initially, NREL and Atomic Computing will explore how quantum computing can improve decision-making regarding power re-routing between feeder lines that carry electricity from substations to local or regional service areas in the event of a switch or line downtime. The cases explored involve handling the energy recovery in the network quickly and effectively in the network. This effort is expected to continue to be the basis for further research.

Hays said the research had already begun. If the partners create value in the future, he hopes the partnership will continue indefinitely.

Additional information about this collaboration is available in a press release posted on the Atom Computing website Here as well as blog articles posted on the NREL website Here.

July 20, 2023

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