Electric Grid

Connecting the dots

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Image by jojo nicdao

Connecting the Dots

More than a billion people lack access to electricity. Many more have only partial access, and these combined populations make up for it by burning kerosene and other polluting biofuels. Electrification will do more than let children study at night. It will decrease the risk of respiratory disease, which alone kills many people per year.

Extending an existing grid to reach these people isn’t always the right answer. Depending on geography and economic factors, it may be more sustainable to build microgrids, or stand-alone systems.

Satellite imagery, machine learning, and modern mapping technology can empower infrastructure planners to design viable, cost-effective off-grid solutions. These tools can better serve communities in need.

Rapidly assess power infrastructure from space

Nighttime satellite images provide tremendous insight into the state of the electric grid, its reach, and its reliability.

Working with the World Bank, the University of Michigan, and NOAA, we developed a tool to explore twenty years of electrification over rural India. The vast archive lets us track electrification over time and evaluate successful programs.

We are currently expanding the tool to provide insights globally.

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Machine Learning for accurate grid detection

Advanced machine learning algorithms can recognize the regular patterns of power infrastructure. These can quickly map the grid from satellite imagery and radar data. We take this data and augment it with drone data, ground sensors, and ride-sharing records, to make it more useful.

With data from the European Space Agency, we can now detect power lines in images where they are smaller than a pixel.

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Managing the Grid

Managing the grid across government agencies is incredibly difficult. So we built an Energy Manager Toolkit, derived from Taurus, our infrastructure management suite.

The toolkit gives energy managers ways to track, edit, and update their grid map in real time. It integrates with tools like MIT’s Reference Electrification Model, to facilitate smart investments.

It’s also entirely open source, and extends software from the popular OpenStreetMap project.

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Energy Data to Drive Public Investment is the largest source of open energy data that we know of. It includes powerful planning tools, like the “Size of the Prize” calculator, which evaluates potential markets for off-grid networks.

We built with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to improve the data ecosystem for smart investments for energy infrastructure.

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Cleaner Energy for All

We are deeply committed to clean energy and protecting the planet. That’s why we’re partnering with Bloomberg Energy on ClimateScope, which provides open data on green investments in 55 countries.

We are also working with an inspiring team at Carnegie Endowments Energy and Climate Program on the Oil Climate Index, which helps energy producers source oil responsibly.

Oil is not equal. Without changing consumption, we can reduce greenhouse emissions with responsible sourcing, but for this we need excellent data.

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Are you working on power planning?

Let’s talk about how we can work together. We are seeking research partners, team members, and clients that are interested in improving electric grids with better tech and open data.

Join our team

We're a team of engineers and designers working on big projects. We believe in open source and in building for lasting impact.

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