Duke uses AWS to develop smart grid technology

  • November 29, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson

North Carolina-based energy company Duke Energy is working with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to develop smart grid technology to serve customers and drive its clean energy transition.

Duke Energy plans to build smart grid software and services on AWS and expand its intelligent grid service, a suite of custom-built applications that help the utility anticipate future energy demand and identify where and how to update the power grid.

AWS will build out the cloud technologies needed to support these critical grid-planning offerings. Duke Energy’s applications, running on AWS, should help the utility advance its data-driven grid investment plans to improve resiliency, integrate renewable energy sources, and prepare for widespread electric vehicle adoption.

The multiyear strategic collaboration aims to accelerate the utility’s development of grid technology. It should further Duke Energy’s commitment to use AWS as its primary cloud provider for software development. The utility is also migrating IT and grid analytics workloads to AWS.

Duke Energy is executing an aggressive clean energy strategy to create a smarter energy future for its customers and communities. This includes investing $145bn over the next decade in capital projects, most of which will go towards modernising the USA’s largest electric grid. These investments should improve the grid’s reliability and resiliency, connect a growing number of renewables, and prepare the grid for rapid electric vehicle adoption, all while keeping affordability for its customers at the forefront.

“Our digital evolution is foundational to our clean energy transition,” said Bonnie Titone, senior vice president at Duke Energy. “For example, to accurately simulate future energy needs and plan investments for the grid, we need to run hundreds of millions of power flow calculations, a process that would take weeks using traditional IT hardware. By using cloud technologies that AWS is developing for Duke Energy, we aim to run those same simulations in 15 minutes or less.”

These simulations – and other analytics made possible by Duke Energy’s intelligent grid services applications on AWS – deliver insights to help the utility continue its data-driven grid investment plans. The applications can forecast where needs will be greatest and estimate the amount of load the distribution system can accommodate without impacting power quality or reliability. These applications can also make recommendations on the most cost-effective grid technology needed to meet the evolving needs of users, whether that user is an individual who wants to put solar panels on their home or a commercial customer that wants to electrify its fleet of vehicles.

And by running the applications on AWS, Duke Energy can get these actionable insights from millions of gigabytes of data at scale and speed. Faster, more accurate insights mean Duke Energy is better equipped to build a smart grid that can withstand extreme weather, handle the growing needs of electric vehicles, and support green technologies, such as rooftop solar and battery energy storage.

“Duke Energy and AWS share similar commitments to a smarter and cleaner energy future with net-zero carbon emissions,” said Sarah Cooper, general manager of industry products at AWS. “These intelligent grid services leverage the proven scalability and reliability of the world’s leading cloud and will help Duke Energy meet energy demands while maximising the use of clean energy sources, such as solar and wind power, to serve their customers.”

Harry Sideris, executive vice president at Duke Energy, added: “Customers are at the centre of everything Duke Energy does. Through this partnership with AWS, we’ll be able to make better decisions at the micro and macro levels to meet the evolving needs of our customers and communities as we build a smarter, cleaner energy future together.”

Duke Energy, a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, is an energy holding company. Its electric utilities serve 8.2 million users in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, and collectively own 50,000MW of energy capacity. Its natural gas unit serves 1.6 million users in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The company employs 28,000 people.

Duke Energy is executing a clean energy transition to achieve its goals of net-zero methane emissions from its natural gas business by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions from electricity generation by 2050. The company has interim carbon emission targets of at least 50% reduction from electric generation by 2030, 50% for scope-two and certain scope-three upstream and downstream emissions by 2035, and 80% from electric generation by 2040.

In addition, the company is investing in major electric grid enhancements and energy storage, and exploring zero-emission power generation technologies such as hydrogen and advanced nuclear.