Can service-oriented architecture (SOA) help alleviate global warming?
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A unique SOA application linking energy providers with their customers to help conservation while meeting growing global demand for electricity has been developed by KLG Systel Ltd., a business lifecycle management vendor based in India.
Connectgaia is an intelligent monitoring engine that tracks usage of power by electricity providers, companies and individuals, said Sumit Goel, general manager of Systel. Instead of auditing power consumption after usage, which has been the standard business model for electric companies, Connectgaia helps track and manage power in real-time through SOA-based connectivity.
The SOA implementation allows home consumers and businesses to connect via the Web to their energy provider to monitor usage and then make adjustments to their electricity usage. Connectgaia is currently being tested in India, but Systel plans to roll it out globally in 2008, including in the United States.
"Connectgaia is an SOA solution in which we are trying to promote empowerment of end users," Goel said.
Connectgaia provides interactive links between power companies and the business users and home consumers who rely on them to keep the lights on and the air conditioner, refrigerator, television and PCs running, he said.
The idea is to use the SOA connection to provide flexible, interactive ways to conserve electricity, especially during times when demand is maxing out the power grid, Goel said. It would avoid rolling blackouts, which is how power companies often deal with peak demands that outpace the supply.
A rolling blackout, which is in effect a controlled power outage, cuts electricity through out the business or home. Connectgaia takes a much more subtle approach, adjusting the air conditioner and refrigerator settings, for example, so they use less electricity, Goel said.
If the power grid reaches the limits of its capacity, the energy provider could alert individual customers, so they could reduce the use of air conditioning or turn off non-essential lighting. As a two-way interactive system, during an energy emergency the power company could turn off lights and appliances in a business or home. This might sound drastic, but it would be preferable to a total blackout.
Using an IBM enterprise service bus (ESB) and portals to connect customers to the utility company's databases and monitoring systems, Connectgaia provides interactive communications to everything from PC-based Web browsers to text messaging on cell phones and PDAs, Goel said.
As he envisions it, a homeowner who is traveling might receive a text message from their electric company telling them that a power outage is imminent and requesting them to turn off the air conditioner. Using the same wireless device, that consumer would be able to send a message to a home-based utility management system changing the thermostat setting.
"This end-to-end integration is enabled by SOA," Goel said.
Beyond handling power emergencies, Connectgaia provides information that would help a business or home consumer tune their appliances to conserve energy, Goel said. For example, it would inform the consumer that the air conditioner was maintaining the house at 70 degrees, even while the occupants were at work or on a business trip. Adjusting the air conditioner to maintain 80 degrees when no one is home would result in considerable savings not only for the customer, but for the global environment.
Connectgaia provides a potential answer to the dilemma of growing global demand for electricity and the green house gases produced by the burning of coal to produce the energy being demanded, Goel said. Promoting conservation of energy using SOA principles would provide potential solution to this problem where users are given the data to make informed decision about energy consumption.
SOA powered conservation would allow the global economy to do more with less electricity.