Supplying energy to the American people is an increasingly complex task. These complexities include not just the conversion of the various forms of energy (oil, gas, wind, hydropower, etc.) into useful forms (transportation fuel and electricity) but also moving the more useful form to where it can be used (transmission). Economics and government regulations complicate the matter further.
Let’s focus on electricity supply. The U.S. Electricity Grid, which could be considered the largest machine in the world, has innumerable moving parts. All elements must work together to provide a sufficient amount of electricity to homes, schools, businesses, and factories when its needed and at an affordable price. How do we know what is sufficient? How do we know when to supply it? How can we make it cheaper?
High-performance computing can help us answer these questions. The data is there, and U.S. computing capabilities have developed to a point where we can analyze and convert the data into actionable information.
The data currently available is immense. Not only does generation vary moment by moment but so does demand. Couple this with rapidly changing system dynamics such as minute-by-minute weather changes and associated impacts, and the availability of cooling water. Now add smart grid, other incoming data and the need for outgoing decisions. Pulling it all together represents real time computational challenges.
U.S. high-performance computing capabilities resident at our national laboratories can turn these challenges into an opportunity for competitive advantage. What was once only available for unique, extremely important and expensive government research projects or the largest corporations is now available to benefit society on a greater scale. Furthermore, the breadth and depth of an educated and talented work force to utilize these tools is expanding. The world-wide competitive advantage this will provide is beginning to be realized across various domestic and international industry sectors.
The HPC for Energy initiative is a very important and timely program that can accelerate the realization of the benefits of better-informed deployment of HPC across all aspects of the U.S. energy supply chain.
RELATED: A Transformative Partnership: California Energy Systems for the 21st Century by Michael Peevey.
About the Author:
Carl O. Bauer is the former Director of the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and Founder and President of C.O. Bauer Consulting, Inc. He has over thirty-five years of experience in the private and public sectors in the arena of energy and technology development and deployment. Presently, his company provides technical and managerial assistance to industry, utilities, national laboratories and state and federal government agencies relative to energy and technology utilization and investment.