Participants in this innovation competition have the opportunity to compete for $15,000 in prize money, as well as a VIP trip to the U.S. Department of Energy, Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (ARPA-E) Energy Innovation Summit in Washington, D.C. (February 9-11, 2015). In addition to cash prizes and the ARPA-E trip, winning ideas and participants may be invited to work with ComEd and Exelon to implement their solutions.
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A signification portion of U.S. energy infrastructure is located in areas increasingly prone to intense storms and climatic disruptions. Electricity transmission and distribution lines– the wires that deliver power from producers to residences and businesses across the country– are at increased risk of failure as climate change intensifies. The results range from a minor inconvenience for customers to severe strain on homes, businesses, and our communities.
Utilities are beginning to address this risk by deploying advanced power electronics and outage management systems that enable remote monitoring and detection of disruptions. However, there exists today more mainstream and consumer‐owned technology (smartphones, GPS location services, LTE communications, and social media) that could also be harnessed to quicken the response to electricity disruptions. In the event of a fault, or damage to distribution power lines, blackout, the old school method still in widespread practice– customers must to telephone their utility to report the event. What is an inconvenience to customers is also a logistical challenge for the utility and repair crews– where?, when?, and what happened? are questions that may remain unanswered until repair crews arrive onsite.
New technologies, including cellphones and smart phones, the internet, GPS‐tracking, and social media have greatly increased the transparency and accessibility of communications between organizations and individuals all over the world. Digital telecommunications have revolutionized our ability to access data, share it with others, and record and document the world around us.
The Challenge: How do we improve communication between consumers and the utilities to build a more responsive and secure grid?
Suggested solution components:
The competition will be judged in two rounds. The first round lasts from September 1, 2014, to November 10, 2014. There are two categories of submission: individuals and teams. Participants must be undergraduate and graduate students currently attending accredited colleges and universities in the U.S.
In addition to submitting materials outlining your solution, we ask each individual or team to submit an essay of no more than 400 words expressing 1) your solution; 2) your team; and 3) why you expect this combination to be successful.
After one round of judging between November 10 and December 1, finalists will be contacted by competition administrators from Spark Clean Energy. These finalists will then be invited to join judges by conference call or Skype for a 30 to 60 minute interview. During this time, finalists will be presented with one or more hypothetical scenarios that identify challenges and questions facing the team or individual’s solution. Finalists will then have 5-10 minutes to prepare responses to each of these scenarios. Winners will be selected based on the team’s cohesive ability to address these scenarios successfully.
Questions regarding the competition should be submitted here. Please understand that we cannot assist with the design or content of your submission.