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Energy & Sustainability

This Energy Startup Is Bringing the Internet to the Power Grid

Peter Lougee

Energy Columnist, 1776

Gridco Systems Distributed Grid Controller_panel 1.13.14While the Internet has revolutionized the ways computing and communication are done, the power grid has been slow to adapt to new technologies—despite being vulnerable as a result. Now, that may finally be changing.

GigaOm reports that after four years, energy startup Gridco has launched its first product designed to disrupt the power grid. The key is a new, smarter power management system that decentralizes the computing required to manage power distribution, which will allow utilities to “tightly control the flow of power” on different portions of the grid.

This innovation will allow utility companies to better leverage solar and wind generators, as both sources of energy are accompanied by surges and steep declines in the amount of power being produced. Gridco’s efforts have not gone unnoticed by investors either. In a separate piece, GigaOm adds that Gridco has raised $10 million in recent rounds of fundraising from venture capital funds, in addition to the nearly $20 million the company had raised in previous rounds.

Green Tech Media writes that the new technology offered by Gridco is based on a “series-connected, voltage-control power regulation” device that is tied into in-field computing that is unlike anything else on the market today. This computing method allows control of voltage down to a level of “individual distribution lines” and can be done independently of the central network. The system itself requires no moving parts, no maintenance, and is estimated to last 25 years once deployed. Gridco accomplishes all of this by deploying a series of networked semiconductors that adjust voltages by plus or minus 10 percent instantly, through the use of algorithms run by Distributed Grid Controllers, which are—in essence—the brains of the whole operation.

Taken individually, each piece of Gridco’s offerings is impressive. Taken as a whole, Gridco has developed a potentially revolutionary method of regulating power utilities that has taken its cues from the decentralized nature of the internet. Other startups looking to enter the utility or energy markets should take careful note of Gridco’s methods, and look to modern computing for inspiration in their efforts to disrupt traditional methods of doing business.

Peter Lougee

Energy Columnist, 1776

Peter is a Washington, D.C.-based freelance writer with a Master's Degree in Public Policy from American University. In addition to startups, Peter likes coffee, books and whiskey.