Sentient Energy®: Making the Grid Safe, Reliable, and Future-Ready
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Jim Keener, CEO; Michael Bauer, President, Founder, and Chief Product Officer
Tales of technological transformation are common, with many having moved on to significantly new chapters. Take, for instance, the exponential progress in air and space travel. From the first instance of flight at Kitty Hawk to supersonic aircraft and manned space stations, what was once inconceivable is now a reality. A similar transformation occurred in the communication industry in the 1990s into the 2000s as we were introduced to mobile and smartphone technology.
An era of transformation is now underway for the power industry where until recently, the fundamental “how” of delivering electricity has remained constant over the last 120 years. Constrained by legacy infrastructure, however, some technology advances have not been easy for the power industry to incorporate into aging grids.
Today’s electrical distribution grid has ushered in many small, unregulated, and diversely owned Distributed Energy Resources (DERs). Power delivery is becoming more complex with the advent of decentralization, cross-boundary distribution grids, multi-way power flow, and smaller-scale transmission, driven by renewable generation and battery storage.
The need for safe, reliable power exists more now than any time in history. Challenges to both personnel safety and electrical reliability is exacerbated by an aging electrical infrastructure and extreme weather conditions. The recent wildfires involving the electrical infrastructure have created a major concern to the environment. These industry realities highlight the need for distribution grid modernization solutions focused on reliability and safety.
Enter Sentient Energy. The company leads the industry in developing innovative products that “make power delivery safe, reliable and adaptable to the changing environment.” Recently acquired by Koch Engineered Solutions (KES), a unit of Koch Industries, Inc., the U.S. based company provides the industry’s only Intelligent Sensing Platform that covers the entire distribution system. Sentient Energy’s quickly-deployed intelligent sensors and analytics identify, analyze and help predict potential faults and other grid events. “KES’s drive to develop a new intelligent grid platform capable of meeting the distribution grid needs of today and tomorrow is exciting and innovative. Sentient Energy’s Grid Analytics SystemTM creates a strong foundation which KES plans to build upon. The Sentient Energy team is excited to work with KES and be part of the journey forward,” says Jim Keener, CEO of Sentient Energy.
With a focus on public and utility personnel safety, Sentient Energy uses previously unharnessed data to help utilities predict grid events and safety issues before they happen. A step ahead of today’s reactive and resource-intensive software and hardware solutions, Sentient Energy’s solutions work proactively to help utilities provide the safest and most reliable power delivery possible. The company’s Intelligent Sensing Platform combines highly-accurate intelligent grid sensors, easily deployable on any powerline, with powerful management and analytics applications enabling utilities to detect faults, cost-efficiently preempt problems and deliver dependable power. Along with this, Sentient Energy is focused on keeping its devices cost-effective and high quality.
KES’s drive to create a new intelligent grid platform capable of meeting the distribution grid needs of today and tomorrow is exciting and innovative. Sentient Energy’s Grid Analytics System creates a strong foundation in which to build upon
Sentient Energy’s Grid Analytics System comprises intelligent sensors, distributed applications, and the AmpleTM Analytics suite that analyzes and interprets the sophisticated data the system collects from the grid. Powered by harvesting energy from the grid’s magnetic field, the sensors support multiple communications options. “Sentient Energy’s Intelligent Sensors are designed to detect and analyze various types of data on the operations of power lines, thereby helping the utility to run more reliably, recognize and remedy issues as or before they occur,” says Michael Bauer, President, Founder, and Chief Product Officer of Sentient Energy. In cases when the conductor is impacted by a tree branch, dispatch center staff who are monitoring the system can inform utility crews of the problem, benefitting crew and public safety.
“By providing the best intelligent sensor technology, the Sentient Energy team is providing the foundation of future predictive analytics ensuring a highly reliable and safe distribution grid,” says Keener.
Sentient Energy’s intelligent sensors, the MM3TM overhead line monitor, the ZM1 feeder lateral monitor, and the UM3+ underground sensor are all high-performance oscilloscope sensors featuring substation-class measuring, computing, and processing capabilities. The new grid solutions encompass innovations around both existing and new products and services.
Sentient Energy’s Grid Analytics System supports utilities in preventing reliability events and restoring power more quickly after an event. Intelligent sensors’ views show past distribution line faults as well as real-time fault locations that allow utility staff to quickly address the situation in a greatly reduced time period. Utility customers typically see an 8 to 10 percent improvement in the outage reduction with Sentient Energy’s system.
Sentient Energy’s industry-leading capabilities and innovative solutions combined with the expertise of KES are instrumental in helping utilities keep up in this phase of rapid change. “The acquisition of Sentient Energy is an exciting and important first step toward building an intelligent electric grid platform within KES,” says Don Brown, Vice President of Business Development at KES. “We believe the complementary capabilities of Sentient Energy and Koch Industries, such as our mutual expertise in sensors, software, and data analytics, will allow KES to build an important new business that offers solutions to make distribution grids more efficient and sustainable in the years to come. Sentient Energy has recorded exceptional growth over the years, and Koch’s global capabilities will help it scale even faster.”
According to Dave Dotson, President, KES, the addition of Sentient Energy to KES is a natural step in its vision to become a preferred partner in delivering superior value by developing, integrating, and applying innovative technical and service solutions for industrial, and now electric utility, value chains. “Similar to what we are doing in areas like mass transfer, combustion engineering, and separation, our vision to build an intelligent electric grid platform underscores our commitment to providing solutions that help our partners and customers solve their highest value challenges,” he adds.
Management Jim Keener, CEO; Michael Bauer, President, Founder, and Chief Product Officer
Description Sentient Energy provides the industry’s only Grid Analytics System that covers the entire distribution network with quickly deployed intelligent sensors and analytics that identify and analyze potential faults and other grid events
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