How quantum computing can boost energy grid resilience

Renewable energy is the power source of the future, but building reliable grids to transport this energy is no simple task. This is why GreenBiz author and engineering professor Amin Khodaei believes quantum computing is the solution to building dependable grids for a sustainable energy system. 

Traditional computing has been used extensively in energy sectors to predict severe weather and equipment outages, but as the green energy grid grows, quantum computing offers advantages over classic computing. Mostly in the form of speed. In traditional systems, a computer model detects a potential or real threat and communicates it to personnel who must respond, but with quantum computing, thousands and even millions more potential threat situations can be analyzed in a fraction of the time that it would take a traditional computer. This allows threats like faulty equipment, extreme winds, or flooding to be detected at much higher rates. 

We know how revolutionary quantum computing can be for grids because some are already using it. ComEd, the electric utility in northern Illinois and Chicago, is experimenting with how quantum computing can help understand power system behavior to aid timely decision-making. They were successfully able to analyze more data at a lower cost using only four “qubits,” the basic unit of information in quantum computing. 

Khodaei, who helped run the study, writes, “We established the proof of concept that, in fact, quantum computing can be used to analyze a practical and fundamental power system problem.”

The use of quantum computing to facilitate grid resilience, especially when it comes to extreme weather, is being quickly adopted, but Khodaei says collaboration is key to taking this technology nation-wide. Every power grid has a unique network topology and a different geographic setting, so communication between grids and increased research into practical applications is critical. 

Reliable grids are necessary for effectively transporting renewable energy and ushering in the age of green power. As climate change increases the frequency of extreme weather threats to grids, quantum computing can provide the insights needed to keep grids working properly. 

Khodaei concludes, “As quantum technology moves closer to commercialization, we must boost efforts in proof-of-concept and collaborative pilot studies, such as the one conducted by our team, to make sure we achieve the clean, secure, reliable and resilient grid of the future.”

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