AES announced the advancement of its efforts to lead transformation in the energy industry with an open innovation contest targeted at improving the safety and increasing availability of power plants through unmanned inspections in extreme heat.
Andres Gluski, AES President and CEO, said, “AES takes our mission of improving lives seriously and recognizes that today’s energy solutions must evolve to meet tomorrow’s needs. Engaging and collaborating with great thinkers outside our company and industry allows us to extend our internal innovation capabilities to create the best solutions for the future.”
AES has a history of innovation in the industry, starting with the company’s founding as one of the U.S.’s first independent power producers and continuing through today as the world’s leading provider of energy storage solutions through its Advancion® product and leading user of drone-based applications in the electricity sector. The company remains committed to its efforts to turn ideas into real solutions by focusing on three areas that impact its ability to improve lives: developing a clean, unbreakable grid; creating a safer, smarter workplace; and considering the full energy value chain when seeking solutions to meet the challenges of growing communities and economies around the world.
To further its efforts to create a safer, smarter workplace, AES is launching an Open Innovation Contest in partnership with NineSigma, a company with extensive external resources and connections to accelerate innovation.
It is estimated that more than 20,000 MW of generation capacity is offline globally at all times due in part to outage-related inspections, reducing the ability of electric grids to absorb variable renewable sources like wind and solar. These outages represent $1B in lost power capacity, nearly the energy consumption in the state of Virginia every year. Electricity generation can require extreme heat conditions. When a system failure occurs that halts electricity generation and we need to inspect and repair equipment, we must wait until temperatures reach a sufficiently low level for someone with personal protective equipment to enter the confined space safely to inspect and repair the equipment. It not only can be hazardous work, but also increases the time it takes the company to begin generating electricity again.
AES is looking for innovative unmanned technologies to conduct inspection work that can resist extreme heat and keep our people safe while improving energy availability by getting plants back online more quickly. Responses and potential solutions are being requested from other companies, consultants, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs or inventors. Three winners will be recognized and rewarded at AES’ global Innovation Congress in July 2017 held at its Corporate Headquarters in the Washington, D.C. metro area. The company is accepting proposals through February 28, 2017.