Quantum Computing in the Power Sector
(PowerMag) Power operations are quickly growing ever more complex, and “classical” systems may reach a level of “saturation” in their ability to solve problems. A promising emerging solution is embedded in quantum computing, a relatively new field that leverages the unique rules of quantum mechanics to process information.
Mahesh Sudhakaran, general manager of IBM’s Energy, Sustainability, and Utilities division, explained to POWER in September, several energy firms are already pointedly exploring quantum computing’s potentially broad capabilities to resolve a suite of industrial issues that exist or are emerging. Among IBM’s sizable list of case studies is work with vehicle company Daimler on solutions for electric vehicles; ExxonMobil to refine maritime logistics; and Mitsubishi Chemical to explore new forms of light, as well as to develop lithium-oxygen batteries.
On the power front, IBM recently announced a partnership with E.ON to definitively explore quantum solutions for the German utility’s rapidly decentralizing energy workflow. E.ON will, for example, explore how to best integrate vehicle-to-grid technologies to the distribution grid, focusing on the coordination and control of these widespread smaller systems.
Along with solving optimization problems, which Sudhakaran said has both a localized and larger grid collective potential, quantum computing’s most notable near-term use cases in the rapidly morphing power space will include machine learning and molecule modeling. “I think quantum is going to be transformational in the coming years because machine learning, molecule physics, and optimization are 3D problems that are going to define how clean electrification and sustainability become real,” he said. “In fact, some of the product challenges around sustainability will require quantum as a part of their portfolio to address the challenge.”