Vector Group today announced a strategic collaboration with X, the moonshot factory (formerly Google [x]), which will include virtualising New Zealand’s largest electricity network, run by Vector in Auckland.
Vector and X are working together on network virtualisation and simulation technology as part of their shared vision to reimagine the design, management, and operation of electricity networks; get ahead of increasing demands for clean energy; and transform the network in order to support decarbonisation.
As customers increasingly adopt electric vehicles and solar panels, these tools mean transmission and distribution operators can simulate the likely impact and proactively invest and manage their networks to maintain a reliable and affordable energy supply.
As Vector Group Chief Executive Officer Simon Mackenzie explains: “Electricity networks globally are critical infrastructure that can enable the urgent decarbonisation of transport and industry. We must ensure an affordable transition through accelerating the deployment of new technologies, including digital platforms.
“The old models for designing and managing energy networks simply aren’t viable anymore to manage the complexities of future energy requirements, climate change and costs. We first presented our strategy to X in 2019, found significant alignment, and now we have a team of experts from both companies working together.”
It has become an increasingly challenging problem for electricity networks to integrate renewable generation, storage, electric vehicles, and other technologies, while also balancing affordability and reliability needs.
As Audrey Zibelman, Vice President and General Manager for X’s moonshot for the electric grid explains: “As consumers around the world adopt more renewables and shift to electric vehicles, the pressure is on for networks to rapidly evolve. Our collaboration with Vector is rooted in our shared understanding that the whole industry has to transform. We are excited to partner with an industry leader like Vector as we collaborate on the development of solutions by combining our respective areas of expertise.”
X’s electric grid moonshot, which Zibelman announced at the White House Leaders Summit on Climate in April 2021, is developing grid virtualisation tools to support an efficient and rapid path to the global decarbonisation of the power system.
Vector will deploy the solutions initially in the Auckland region, but also plans to make them available more broadly, given the urgent global need to decarbonise electricity networks.
Says Vector's Chief Digital Officer Shailesh Manga: “As an industry innovator, we're proud to be part of a diverse set of experts to solve a meaningful global challenge. We want to ensure that Vector, and other transmission and distribution companies, have the tools to dynamically manage their systems, ensuring we’re never in the way of customers wanting to adopt renewable energy solutions and electric vehicles.”