Industrial Internet Testbed Announced

Developing testbeds for testing development of technology extensions seems to be hot right now. The Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition has a couple going in conjunction with US government money. There is a bid out from the US government for development of some more, also related to energy efficiency.

The Industrial Internet Consortium announced its first energy-focused testbed: the Communication and Control Testbed for Microgrid Applications. Industrial Internet Consortium member organizations Real-Time Innovations (RTI), National Instruments, and Cisco, are collaborating on the project, working with power utilities CPS Energy and Southern California Edison. Additional industry collaborators include Duke Energy and the power industry organization – Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP).

I recently saw where an analyst positioned the IIC with the German Industry 4.0 initiative–while ignoring the US Smart Manufacturing group altogether. These advanced manufacturing strategies are showing some growth. Both of these have commercial technology companies solidly behind them. I would think that they will have more impact in the long run than SMLC. But we’ll see.

Here is some background from the IIC press release. “Today’s power grid relies on a central-station architecture not designed to interconnect distributed and renewable power sources such as roof-top solar and wind turbines. The system must over-generate power to compensate for rapid variation in power generation or demands. As a result, much of the benefit of renewable energy sources in neighborhoods or businesses is lost. Efficiently integrating variable and distributed generation requires architectural innovation.”

The goal of the Communication and Control Testbed is to introduce the flexibility of real-time analytics and control to increase efficiencies in this legacy process – ensuring that power is generated more accurately and reliably to match demand. This testbed proposes re-architecting electric power grids to include a series of distributed microgrids which will control smaller areas of demand with distributed generation and storage capacity.

These microgrids will operate independently from the main electric power grid but will still interact and be coordinated with the existing infrastructure.

The testbed participants will work closely with Duke Energy, which recently published a distributed intelligence reference architecture, as well as SGIP to help ensure a coordinated, accepted architecture based on modern, cross-industry industrial internet technologies.

The Communications and Control framework will be developed in three phases that will culminate in a field deployment that will take place at CPS Energy’s “Grid-of-the-Future” microgrid test area in San Antonio, Texas.

The initial phases will be tested in Southern California Edison’s Controls Lab in Westminster, CA.

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