HomeRegional NewsAfricaVirtualising national T&D grid to promote the energy transition

Virtualising national T&D grid to promote the energy transition

In efforts to accelerate South Africa’s energy transition, Distributed Power Africa (DPA) is working with X (formerly known as Google X), Alphabet’s moonshot factory, to virtualise the country’s electricity grid.

The process will include virtualisation of the national electrical transmission and distribution (T&D) grid, and developing new grid tools to assist with planning, and promoting energy resilience and low carbon power in South Africa.

The move is set to facilitate the just energy transition and enable reliable electricity access for the country.

The X team hopes to provide everyone who is involved in building, managing and using the T&D grid —from grid operators, governments and utilities, to renewable energy and storage developers — with the insights they need to improve the planning and operation of the grid with the goal of eliminating blackouts and ensuring reliable electricity.

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X announced that it is working on a moonshot for the electric grid earlier this year. The team is developing new computational tools designed to give everyone who manages and operates the ability to plan, build, and manage a clean and resilient grid. 

Leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence, the team is building tools to enable the real-time virtualisation of electric grids.

X and DPA will focus on building a real-time model for the future of South Africa’s electricity system to improve the planning and operation of the grid, address blackouts, ensure reliable electricity, and facilitate an increased reliance on renewable energy sources. 

The platform can also help to expedite assessments and placement of new clean energy sources, allowing for quick development of new power plants and a faster response to South Africa’s electricity crisis.

Virtualisation of T&D grid can leapfrog legacy deficiencies

According to Norman Moyo, CEO of Distributed Power Africa, their work with X will provide the missing piece in the energy ecosystem in Africa. “X’s moonshot for the electric grid team is enabling a virtual matching platform for generators and consumers of electrons. Africa’s biggest crisis today is energy security. There is a strong correlation between energy security and GPD growth. Distributed energy is a key catalyst to leapfrog the continent’s legacy energy structural deficiencies.”

Audrey Zibelman, Vice President of X’s moonshot for the electric grid, said: “People everywhere deserve access to clean and reliable power and X’s moonshot for the electric grid team is committed to accelerating an equitable energy transition. As our first partner in Africa, we’re looking forward to learning from DPA and their innovative approach as it will deepen our understanding of the problems that need to be solved in order to transform electrical grids so they better serve the people who rely on them every day.”

Nomvuyo Tena
Nomvuyo Tena is a Content Producer at Clarion Events Africa and is as passionate about the energy transition in Africa as she is about music and Beyonce.