Greenbird to develop smart NextGrid solutions in new Green Platform project

Press Releases

NextGrid is a new research and innovation project that prepares those working in grid company operating centers to manage the complexity and automated processes needed for the future power grid.

If countries are to reach their stated climate goals, societies will become more and more electrified. This will lead to an increasingly unpredictable power flow. NextGrid will enable grid companies to proactively manage the impact and consequences of this volatility.

In the near future the power grid is expected to operate close to its tolerance limits in terms of capacity and asset loading. This means operations teams will need tools and infrastructure to manage volatility without compromising energy security and reliability.

It is not possible to reach our climate targets without making better use of the grid. This will help to improve our societies and build sustainable growth. Better utilization of the grid will mean faster development of new green jobs, less impact on the environment and a reduction in emissions.

Greenbird in cooperation with Heimdall Power, an independent Norwegian research organization, SINTEF and other leading organizations, are all part of the innovative “NextGrid” project.

As a leading platform provider for data integration, Greenbird will lead the project work package which is focused on integrating, harmonizing and provisioning real-time data and information generated at the grid edge. This will drive new, centralized solutions that provide actionable insights and operational control of the distribution grid.

Developing smart grid solutions

NextGrid is an innovation-driven, green restructuring initiative under the Research Council of Norway’s Green Platform (“Grønn Plattform”). It has been awarded NOK 56.8 million in public funding to develop comprehensive solutions for the future operation of the distribution grid. The NextGrid project aims to realize more cost-effective electrification and the decarbonization of society.

"NextGrid will prepare Norwegian grid companies and their operations centers for complex and automated operations of the future grid." says Gunnar Vist, project manager at Heimdall Power, which is leading the NextGrid project.

Through this collaborative project, all partners will work together to find innovative solutions. These must function both in isolation, but also fit together as building blocks of larger solutions, including at the international level.

"Making the various building blocks work seamlessly together and enabling fast and reliable integration of these new data-driven solution components will be the main focus for Greenbird in this project,” says Thorsten Heller, CEO at Greenbird Integration Technology. “This is where we have a long history of delivering industry-leading technology and domain expertise.”

Assembling the technologies

The technologies required for the operation of smart grids are largely already in place. But to date, the implementation and scaling of these solutions have been too slow. And it's the lack of effective integration that has slowed progress.

"NextGrid will accelerate the development of next-generation monitoring and control of the distribution grid," says Vist.

Through NextGrid, project partners will join forces to develop and test new monitoring systems for the power grid, battery storage, operational planning tools and platform technology for data integration. The innovations developed in the project are to be tested and verified through demonstration schemes. The “Catapult Centre Sustainable Energy” and the “National Smart Grid Laboratory” will be instrumental in evaluating the demonstrations, while the “Norwegian Smart Grid Center” will play an important role when it comes to facilitating a joint effort towards global commercialization.

Automated operations to help green the grid

Today, the operation of the local and regional distribution networks largely consists of manual processes. The toolbox for solving operational challenges is relatively limited. This has been sufficient in the past but has required operating and planning the grid with large safety margins. Those safety margins have prevented grid companies from fully utilizing the power grid, and restricted new customers and other parties from connecting to the existing grid.

“Grid modernization is a key challenge for utilities,” says Thorsten Heller, CEO at Greenbird Integration Technology. “With the increased volume and variety of data available across the enterprise and at the grid edge, it is essential to have a modern approach to enterprise architecture. With Utilihive we will help simplify integration and access to real-time, harmonized and accurate data for our partners and accelerate new service innovation for a smart power grid.”

Flexibility resources will play an important role in the project. These include electric car chargers, commercial greenhouse lighting, underfloor and water heating - to name but a few.

"By automatically shifting the load and time of use, we are able to reduce peak loads and avoid major investment costs for upgrading the power grid. In addition, we will be able to fully utilize the considerable built-in flexibility in the grid, which is currently underutilized," says Vist.

In order for flexibility resources and inherent grid flexibility to be utilized by the grid companies, information from many subsystems must be linked together to provide a holistic view of all resources to be used in active grid operations. Furthermore, integrating flexibility resources into the grid must be simplified and automated through new market solutions which are cost-effective and user-friendly for prosumers.

Breadth of expertise in the project

NextGrid is led by Heimdall Power, which provides solutions for the operation and development of high-voltage lines based on a self-developed multivector sensor unit that measures a wide range of parameters on power lines.

Also participating in the project are researchers from SINTEF Energy Research and 16 other partners with expertise in component production, suppliers of software, market platforms and IT solutions, as well as grid companies.

Partners include: Heimdall Power, Kongsberg Digital, Agder Energi Flexibility, Greenfox, Norsk Transformer, Hitachi Energy, Greenbird Integration Technology, BKK Nett, Elvia, Fagne, Sustainable Energy / Norwegian Catapult Centre, Norwegian Smart Grid Centre (Smart Grid Centre), NODES, NODES-tech, SINTEF Energy Research, Smart grid services cluster, Magtech and Pixii.

About Greenbird

Greenbird is an international solution and technology company with roots in Norway. We simplify the complexity of Big Data Integration to help organizations unlock the value of their data and mission critical applications. Our flagship innovation, Utilihive, is a cloud-native platform combining enterprise integration capabilities with a data lake optimized for energy use cases. We founded Greenbird in 2010 with a mission to revolutionize how the energy industry thinks about enterprise system integration. Today, Utilihive is used by utilities across Europe, Middle East and Asia serving more than 50 million consumers. Greenbird is headquartered in Oslo and has around 50 employees, comprising primarily of senior developers and consultants and specializing in technology development and customer onboarding of the Utilihive platform. To learn how you can unleash the value of data while removing silos, explore Utilihive accelerators here.