Five Ways GridCure Can Make a Global Impact

Reducing humanity’s carbon footprint is both a corporate and a social responsibility. By helping companies and utilities reduce their carbon emissions, we can fight global warming – and the negative effects associated with it, including rising sea levels, endangered wildlife, drought, disease, respiratory problems, malnutrition, and macroeconomic implications. GridCure helps cities utilize their energy more efficiently, incorporate renewable energy resources, and make better operational and financial decisions.

  1. GridCure can help cities meet the increasing energy demand: The Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts the world’s power demands will increase 48% between 2012 to 2040. GridCure can help utilities plan for, generate, distribute, and store energy in an effort to address increasing energy needs. In particular, GridCure can help cities incorporate distributed renewable energy on their network. Without an adequate energy supply, prices can skyrocket, resulting in macroeconomic turmoil and even worse, consumers may go without basic necessities.
  2. GridCure can help cities conserve energy: The EIA also predicts that fossil fuels will still account for about 78% of the energy market in 20401; there are many environmental concerns associated with burning fossil fuels, e.g. acid rain, air pollution and global warming. By helping utilities conserve energy, we can reduce energy waste and can better control the amount of fossil fuels being burned.
  3. GridCure can help cities utilize renewable resources: Renewable energy technologies have much lower environmental impacts than traditional energy technologies, and many utilities will be required to incorporate renewable resources on their grid. Using GridCure’s platform, governments, utilities and enterprise consumers can plan for, generate, distribute, and store renewable energy to both optimize their grids and maintain the stability of their networks as they incorporate more distributed resources. Having a renewable energy plan helps us be more sustainable and secures our future.
  4. GridCure can help cities make better operational and financial decisions: GridCure’s software can help utilities mitigate power outages and transformer failures, which can have lasting devastating consequences on the environment. GridCure’s platform can predict when assets need to be serviced or replaced, helping with capital expenditure costs, operational planning, and preventing environmental hazards associated with avoidable transformer failures and plant explosions.
  5. GridCure can help cities optimize their data: GridCure’s technology can help cities optimize their energy data. For instance, decisions about placement of electric vehicle charging stations can have a large impact on the stability and efficiency of the electrical grid. GridCure can help cities place charging stations where they are needed while limiting any negative impacts on the grid.

Bonus – GridCure can increase the ability to collaborate on common problems: Perhaps the most important impact of our platform will occur simply by giving cities and utilities the tools to collaborate on shared problems. Advancing the sophistication of an entire field will be our most significant contribution long term.

Here at GridCure, we strive to build sustainable solutions that not only help businesses but that will also benefit humanity and protect our environment. We’re saving the world – one electron at a time.



Reducing Technical Loss in the Distribution Grid

In the context of distribution systems, total power loss is the difference between the power leaving a distribution substation and the power delivered to the customer.  Technical loss is the portion of that power loss that occurs due to resistance in the distribution network.   Technical loss varies substantially depending on the type and age of equipment in a network, but also based on strategic choices about the day to day operation of the network.

Typical energy losses in urban distribution systems are 3-4% of the energy sold. Due to the need to span larger areas, technical loss in rural areas may be twice that.1 Energy losses result in loss of revenue for the utilities as well as unnecessary atmospheric emissions.  Decreasing system losses can lead to substantial savings for the utilities by reducing the amount of energy that goes unbilled.

The majority of distribution line losses occur within the primary and secondary distribution lines and transformers.  According to an EPRI study of 42 circuits in New York state, 54% of technical losses were accounted for by transformers, 38% by primary lines, and the rest by secondary lines.  There are two types of loss.  Core losses, incurred in charging magnetic cores of the transformers, are roughly independent of load on the transformer. Resistive losses, which scale with current squared times resistance (I2R) occur due to resistance along the powerlines or wiring within the transformer.

There are a number of common methods for calculating technical loss on a system.  They include using manufacturer testing results to find typical transformer loss, use of physical models to predict line losses, and sampling methods used to extend measured losses in portions of an electrical grid to an entire system.2

Some potential methods for dealing with loss include:

  • Replacing old equipmentOne way to reduce losses is to replace older equipment.  In very high usage regions of the network, installing replacement cables with a higher power rating can greatly reduce losses.  When replacing power cables, a careful load analysis predicting likely load on the cable is necessary to determine which cable is most efficient.  Similarly, updating distribution transformer equipment can lead to significant cost savings.  Distribution transformer upgrades needed to meet new DOE standards are expected to save 350 billion KWH over the next 30 years. 3  A predictive maintenance program can be used to decide when replacing a piece of equipment might be the most feasible.

  • Right-sizing transformersTransformers operate most efficiently when they are at 80-100% of maximum capacity. 2 Underloaded transformers are inefficient due to core losses.  If some transformers are frequently underloaded, it may be possible to strategically shut down certain transformers or install smaller transformers appropriate for the load.  If transformers are frequently overloaded, it might be safer and more efficient to install larger transformers, or rebalance the load such that the transformers are under capacity.  Again a careful analysis is needed to determine when it would make sense financially to upsize, downsize, or shut off a transformer.
  • Phase balancingBecause resistive losses, proportional to I2R, are a nonlinear function of current, balancing the current delivered through each phase line can reduce the total losses in the line, even if customer usage doesn’t change.   An analysis of customer loads and circuit geometry can be used to determine the best way to rebalance the loads on each phase.  When planning new infrastructure such as electric vehicle charging stations, taking system load and the phase balance into account can help ensure that the grid continues to operate at maximum efficiency.
  • Demand management

    Customer demand can be reduced by offering rewards for reducing power consumption during peak periods and for installing more efficient appliances.  Because loss is a nonlinear function of current flow, even modest reductions in power usage at peak periods can have a substantial effect on total loss.  
  • Using capacitor banks to increase reactive load.The two components of apparent load on a system are real load, which performs work, and reactive load, which is needed to magnetize an object such as a transformer core.  By installing or adjusting capacitor banks, the percentage of reactive load on the system can be decreased, reducing losses of real power. 2
  • Voltage optimizationBy carefully re-adjusting voltage levels in a network it may be possible to reduce the current flow in parts of the network, decreasing the total resistive loss in the system.

Identifying the causes of loss on a network and determining the best method for reducing loss can be challenging, but recent advances in smart meter infrastructure and machine learning can help substantially.  The increased temporal and spatial data resolution provided by smart grid technology can be used to better understand loss, sources of loss, and the evolution of loss over time.  Once a detailed map of system losses is determined, a cost effective method for reducing losses is much easier to develop.



And the Winner is… GridCure! RSGS 2016 Re-Cap

GridCure attended it’s second Rural Smart Grid Summit (RSGS) last week where we were able to sit down and speak with over 90 utility executives across two days to share the GridCure story and learn about problems the industry is facing that we can direct our analytical expertise toward solving.

With an overwhelming positive response from the utility executives, GridCure was awarded the prestigious Vendor to Watch award as well as took second place for Best Presentation.  

As a special announcement, GridCure used the conference to invite all the utility representatives to complete a free data audit and – based on the results – receive a tailored opportunity  report of the results that outlines the value and specific modules GridCure can offer the client without requiring the installation of any new sensors or any new servers.

The team extends its thanks to the Smart Grid Summits organizers, the attending utility executives, and all the other vendors for another wonderful event.


Utility Spotlight: CPFL

Brazil faces a unique problem. Global warming, stringent government regulations and the national financial crisis have already had major implications on Brazil’s energy sector.  

Brazil has experienced firsthand the impact of climate change on energy production and the related economics. Although Brazil has an abundance of domestic renewable and fossil fuel energy resources, the country still faces energy supply challenges. For example, the recent drought has not only affected water consumption but also hydro plant generating capacity, which sometimes generates as much as 80% of Brazil’s total electricity; the long-term repercussions of climate change on hydropower generation are still unknown.

Sharing 13% of Brazil’s national distribution market, CPFL services 7.4 million consumers across 569 municipalities. CPFL understands its responsibility to the consumer – and the future of our planet – and has made it a corporate mission to implement conservation and awareness programs, invest in its smart grid, and develop sustainable technologies.

To date, CPFL leads the renewable energy segment in Brazil with more than 70 sustainability projects in operation. These projects include large and small hydroelectric power plants, wind farms, thermal fuel oil, and São Paolo’s first solar power plant.

Similar to utilities everywhere, CPFL must balance cost savings, operational efficiency, and energy efficiency. Although CPFL has implemented one of the most advanced smart grid systems in Brazil, with an entire department dedicated to technology, the company has identified the need for further insight into the network.

GridCure is proud to help forward thinking utilities leverage their data to help manage their energy more efficiently, incorporate distributed energy resources, and make better operational and financial decisions.

Interested in learning more? Contact us here!




Saving the World One Degree at a Time

Last year, GridCure was selected as one of three companies to participate in the first cohort of Silicon Climate’s Accelerator program. Silicon Climate is a non-profit working to ‘spur innovation at the intersection of Silicon Valley and the climate change movement’.

Although we received invaluable advice through the program, perhaps of most value were the connections we made, specifically the introduction to our Advisor, Dave ‘Selly’ Selinger, and the lasting camaraderie with our fellow colleagues in the cohort.

Our good friends Topher and Dave over at Rainforest Connection are using recycled mobile phones and some badass technology to stop illegal logging and poaching; these ‘solar-powered listening devices’ can pinpoint chainsaw activity, identifying deforestation activity as it occurs. They even open source the data they collect, allowing access to anyone around the world.

And Steve the Co-founder and CPO of Social Inertia, a technology company that builds platforms for ‘purposeful individuals’ to empower them to easily make a social impact. Most recently, they built ActOn, a mobile marketplace for social enterprises and nonprofits, connecting users to the causes and issues about which they are passionate.

We’re proud to have worked alongside such an inspirational group of social impactors, and we’re super excited to follow their success.



500kV Around Us

On October 13th, 2016, I was invited to join a crew of engineers in a visit to the main gate of electricity to the Brazilian capital. Called Furnas Samambaia Substation, this is a transmission substation that receives electricity from the North, generated at Hydroelectric Serra Da Mesa Plant, 350 km away from Brasília. This is a 1.252 GW plant, in operation since 1998. It has the biggest water tank in Brazil, with capacity of 56.6 billion cubic meters of water. And also, this is a very singular plant as it is  underground plant, with a full digital operation.

During the visit, 5 engineers and I walked through all facilities at the substation. Starting from where the electricity arrives at 500kV, big towers handle the transmission conductors (See image bellow). At the top of that structure, there were two cables, the guard cables. Its function is to protect the conductors from being hit by lightning strikes, that may cause overvoltages and short-circuits on some occasions. Right after the arrival of the transmission lines, each phase conductor passes through a piece of equipment that counts the surges. One of the phases has counted 12 surges, since its installation a couple of years ago.

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Then, inside the substations, the phases flow through several subsections of the substation that perform a specific operation. There was a Capacitor Bank, that has the function of balancing the reactive power in the grid and keeping the power factor as close to 1 as possible. There were Current Transformers and Potential Transformers, that have the function of changing the potential and current values to the level at which the other equipment operates. There were breakers and switchers, to make the necessary changes in power flow on the grid. There were some huge transformers, to lower the voltage from 500kV to 245kV. And many other pieces of equipment that were responsible for the safe and efficient operation of the facility and the electrical grid.

During the walk around all that equipment, I heard very loud noises. They were due to the corona effect – that is the occurrence of electrical discharges due to the ionization of the air around the conductors in the substation. The substation engineers relayed that during the night it is possible to see purple and green lights around the conductors. I’m sure it is a beautiful scene, but during the day those loud noises were just super scary.

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In the end, the engineers showed us the control room, with a very old, unattractive and unintuitive  system that runs the whole substation operation. He also told us about the lack of automation in situations like maintenance. Once a year a team of technicians and engineers have to drive along approximately 2,300 km of transmission lines looking for problems to be fixed during the year. They also made some comments about some extreme situations they had experienced during their time at the substation.

It was an amazing day, besides the sunburns due to a 3-hour walk in a super sunny day. A lot of valuable information and learning from those who have been doing for several years what I am about to start doing – being an engineer. Thanks for it Alcides, Rogerio, Felipe, Rogerio, and Caio. It was awesome!



Oh! Tagg and His Shenaniwhims

A friend of GridCure and writer for Shenani-whims, Alex Fox, recently interviewed GridCure’s founder, Tagg Jefferson.  Their conversation explores what it means to bring the Silicon Valley mindset into the utility space, the impact of GridCure’s work, and how the shifting regulations and technology are so exciting.

If you follow our social media accounts, you may have already had a chance to check out their interview. But for those of you who haven’t (and those who want to read it again!), check out the interview on Alex’s Medium page below:

Interview on Alex's Medium


It’s National Cooperative Month!

It’s National Cooperative Month, and what better way to celebrate than make a splash at the Rural Smart Grid Summit in Florida next week.

The summit brings together 100+ qualified chief and senior-level utility executives, representing over 100 utilities. There, we will have the opportunity to learn about the problems they’re trying to solve with their data, present our analytics platform directly to decision makers, and forge partnerships with complementary vendors in our space.

GridCure will host platform demonstrations to interested parties. And we’ll even have a special deal just for RSGS participants.

If you’re attending the summit, we’d love to pick your brain. Schedule a one-on-one with Tagg or Hunter

Interested in learning more about what we're up to?  Contact us here


Team Spotlight: Zack

How did you first learn about GridCure?

In the fall of 2014, I was looking for a part-time gig, and to be honest at that time I was a bit tired of big corporations and I thought startup would be the perfect change in my career. I decided to check AngelList, and I discovered that GridCure was hiring a Data Visualization guru. I said to myself, this is a perfect company and position for someone with my skills, and I should give it a shot. Then a couple of days later, I had a Skype interview with Tagg (CEO) which went well, but I wasn’t 100% sure that I nailed my interview, so I decided to design a mock-up of an iPad app with a GridCure layout and dashboard. Just a few days later, Tagg called me, and he said that he and the rest of team was impressed with my design and asked if I wanted to come on board. I said “Yes, I am in!!”

What is your role at GridCure?

Officially, I am the UX/UI designer, and my main goal is to make whatever we design, code, or publish look nice and up to the latest design trends, in line with our branding, and  with a great emphasis on user interaction.

How has GridCure helped you in your career development?

It’s tough to say, I always saw myself as designer, and after that as front-end developer. GridCure (and I presume in every startup in the world) has an unwritten rule to push you in “jack-of-all-trades” mode with everyone working on many different tasks. This forces people to juggle, learn, and stretch themselves beyond what they thought they were capable of.

What do you like most about GridCure?

GridCure is a startup with an innovative vision, has a quick turnaround… and most importantly, has a great team!

Any favorite line from a movie?

“You had me at Hello.” Just kidding, it’s  “La Familia es Todo” from Breaking Bad.

After one brother breaks the other's toy, the wronged kid tells Hector he wishes his brother were dead. Hector responds by attempting to drown the offending brother to prove a point: Don't turn against family, no matter what. “La familia es todo.”

Do you recall any embarrassing moment at work?

Of course! Recently we (GridCure) were recording a video promo, and my part was simply to say “Hi, I am Zack, the UX/UI designer at GridCure” and with my Eastern-European accent and  pronunciation it sounded like “.. at Ge-eque” :)

What music is on your iPhone/Android phone?

I love house music. I don’t have any favourite artists, but my favourite record is British Defected Records (stream it on Soundcloud here)

Where would you like to go on a dream vacation?

Bali, Mauritius

Where is your hometown?

Rijeka, Croatia

What tv show/movie are you ashamed to admit you love?

“Conan the Barbarian”, kidding it’s “The Notebook”

What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have outside of work?

Playing basketball with my buddies, coding trading algorithms and cooking for my teammates on companies retreat (and they are still alive) :)


How Do You Measure, Measure a (GridCure!) Year

It’s been exactly one year since we took home the trophy for the best IoT & Software company at SXSW Eco’s Startup Showcase. And what a year it’s been!

We have successfully launched our first few pilot projects, lined up several additional projects (which are still in negotiation), formalized key partnerships, steadily built our reputation as experts in the energy and big data industries, improved our technology and user experience, and grew our team!

This past year, we launched the first of several pilot projects - all with successful results. Our first project was with a US-based IOU. For this pilot, our algorithms yielded a 10X improvement on standard heuristic models for predicting feeder cable failure over a pre-specified period of time. The accuracy of our results has helped secure our partnership with the renowned consulting firm Burns & McDonnell and has opened the door to new project opportunities with this partner.

Why is this partnership so important to us? Being a startup, we realize that we might not have the same brand recognition as some of the more traditional utility vendors. Because of this, we have worked hard to formalize partnership agreements with reputable consulting firms that can both validate our team and technology and source clients. Over the past year, we have formalized partnership agreements with top tier consulting firms and well-respected organizations, and we are currently vetting additional partnership deals.

And although we’re still ‘newcomers on the scene’, we have been securing our foothold as industry experts; over the past year, we have been invited to present at three major North American conferences and have been selected as the Keynote speaker of a conference in Europe. As you might have read, GridCure’s Head of Analytics just presented ‘Using the Explosion of Data in the Utility Industry to Prevent Explosions in Utility Infrastructure’ at the Strata + Hadoop World Conference in New York, New York and our CEO moderated the panel ‘Distributed Energy Resource Strategy and Implementation Across Unique Markets’ at the iEEE Smart Grid Technology Conference in Minneapolis, MN last month. We’ve been awarded a coveted speakership opportunity at the Renewable Energy World International Expo in Orlando, FL and will be presenting ‘The Innovation of Jordan’s Grid - The Macroeconomic Impact of a Distributed and Renewable Energy Strategy and the Analytics That Drive It’, and have been selected to present our company at a number of well-respected global events, including SXSW Eco Interactive and Demo the World.

With all this positive exposure, it’s a good thing our team has been hard at work improving our platform technology and user experience. We just launched our improved platform this month at start@ETS, the first stop of our Platform Launch Roadshow and are already receiving rave reviews about our new Platform. (Want a peek? Sign up for a demo here).

Finally, we wouldn’t be able to accomplish so much without having a kickass team to power our business. This past year, we’ve made some key hires and strengthened our team bond as a whole. In December, we hosted our first official employee off-site! The whole team met in Boulder, CO to share our respective year-end updates, brainstorm corporate strategy, and collaborate on projects. Just as importantly, we made time for team bonding - the team crafted cards for the Meals on Wheels’ senior outreach program; some of us went for a hike; and I taught Marcus how to make S’mores!

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It’s been quite an exciting year (to say the least), and this just the beginning!

Want to follow our journey? Contact us here!

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Judges included representatives from GE Ventures, the World Bank Group, the United Nations Foundation, and Scientific American - to name just a few. The Showcase was an incredible launchpad into conversations with Austin Energy and Direct Energy, who were both also represented on the judges panel.