In the last week of August 2017, IADB held a conference in conjunction with the Quadracci Sustainable Engineering Lab. The goal was to introduce and discuss new and innovative possibilities for the future grid. Given recent developments in alternative energy sources and growth in the use of sensors, this workshop showcased the role that information and communication technology (ICT) could play in improving energy provision and services. The key themes presented were the problems in developing grids, projections on how the grid will look in the future, and solutions to current problems to bring the grid into a favorable future.
The utility business was historically hardware driven, where utilities generated power and hoped it reached the customer. They metered consumption at the home, and replaced resources when failure was reported by the customer. Over the last decade a lot has changed, how measurements are made, what types of generation are widespread, and the price of monitoring equipment. Through digitization it is now possible to repair equipment before it breaks, utilize more renewable sources, and maintain large grid networks with fewer people.