Connects decision-makers and solutions creators to what's next in quantum computing

Atom Computing and NREL research aims to address complex real-time supply and demand problems

Berenice Baker, Editor, Enter Quantum

July 21, 2023

2 Min Read
Wind and solar farms with connecting lines illustrating smart grids
Energy grids need to balance supply and demand from multiple sources. Getty

Quantum computing company Atom Computing is working with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to explore how quantum computing might help optimize electric grid operations. 

NREL researchers demonstrated how they incorporated Atom Computing’s atomic array quantum computing technology into the lab’s Advanced Research on Integrated Energy Systems (ARIES) research platform at the recent IEEE Power and Energy Society general meeting.

The company uses hardware-in-the-loop testing to create what it calls a “quantum-in-the-loop” capability that can run optimization problems in real-time on a quantum computer. 

“Electric grids are increasingly complex as we add new power generation resources such as wind and solar, electric vehicle charging, sensors and other devices,” said NREL research advisor Rob Hovsapian.

“We are reaching the point where electric grids have more inputs and outputs than what our classical computing models can handle. By incorporating quantum computing into our testing platform, we can begin exploring how this technology could help solve certain problems.” 

Taking all the complex factors that affect energy supply into account is the kind of optimization problem that researchers are turning to quantum computing to resolve. These become more complex as renewable sources are introduced.

Related:Video: E.ON on Role of Quantum In Future Energy Grids

The power generated by wind turbines and solar panels varies according to the time of day and weather conditions. Demand also fluctuates significantly, and operators need the data to re-route effectively in real-time.

“Right now, operators primarily rely on their own experience to make this decision,” Hovsapian said.

“This works but it doesn’t necessarily result in an optimal solution. We are evaluating how a quantum computer can provide better data to make these decisions.” 

The first stage of the project will see NREL and Atom Computing exploring how quantum computing can improve decision-making on the re-routing of power between feeder lines that carry electricity from a substation to a local or regional service area in the event of switch or line downtime.

“Collaborations like this are extremely important for advancing quantum computing and scientific research,” Atom Computing CEO Rob Hays added.

About the Author(s)

Berenice Baker

Editor, Enter Quantum

Berenice is the editor of Enter Quantum, the companion website and exclusive content outlet for The Quantum Computing Summit. Enter Quantum informs quantum computing decision-makers and solutions creators with timely information, business applications and best practice to enable them to adopt the most effective quantum computing solution for their businesses. Berenice has a background in IT and 16 years’ experience as a technology journalist.

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