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Quantum Computing for Energy Networks

Quantum Computing for Energy Networks
Quantum Computing Interview: Jelte Zwetsloot, Portfolio Consultant, Alliander Research Center for Digital Technologies

Alliander is responsible for the distribution of energy such as electricity, (bio)gas and heat to over three million households and businesses in the Netherlands.

This complex undertaking is supported by the Alliander Research Center for Digital Technologies (RCDT) and that's where Jelte Zwetsloot serves as a Portfolio Consultant

"At RCDT we aim to find the right digital innovations to help Alliander transform into the distribution system operator (DSO) of the future. We do this by keeping an eye out for digital trends all over the world, by researching promising technologies, by building proof of concepts and more."

The quantum computer has been on our radar for a while. When the Quantum Application Lab (QAL) in the Netherlands started their search for use-cases in the spring of 2022, we immediately responded with a one of our own.

"We think that quantum computing may be one of the essential technologies to keep a grip on calculations and simulations in the energy transition"

- as the need for real-time insight, the need for optimal use of assets and the complexity of the energy landscape are increasing. “

What obstacles does quantum computing need to overcome to be commercialized?

“I think one of the greatest challenges right now is the black box characterization of quantum computing. Quantum computing sounds complex and futuristic to many, almost like science fiction.

How can we trust such a technology? How do we know it will not be used for the malpractices, just as artificial intelligence has also been in some cases? This might create a barrier to adopt quantum computing that will exist when the technology is ready for large-scale application.

In my day-to-day conversations I note that some people are enthusiastic about quantum, some are skeptical, and many have no idea what quantum computing actually is. How do we expect to apply quantum computing without creating reluctance among the people who will be directly or indirectly working with the outcomes of the ‘magical’ quantum computer?

I think it is needed to give attention to these questions as well, to create a broad support for and understanding of technology, also among those who do not know about quantum computing yet.”

What quantum computing breakthrough from the past 12 months are you most excited about?

“Not necessarily a technical breakthrough, but I am very excited about the growing ecosystem of quantum computing in the Netherlands!

Parties such as the Quantum Application Lab and the Centre for Quantum and Society contribute a lot to the quantum research on a very accessible level. Society needs these research organizations now to find ways to apply quantum computing to modern day challenges, such as the energy transition. That way, when the technology is ready, we can immediately start applying quantum computing where it is needed the most.”

And look forward, what are you excited about the year ahead for quantum computing?

“Our own very first real quantum computing project!

In collaboration with the Quantum Application Lab we’ve started a project on one of our challenges as a Distribution System Operator, called the N-1 principle. The N-1 principle is the idea that the electricity network can provide all customers of energy, even when one of the assets has malfunctioned.

As easy as the idea may sound, in reality it takes a lot of computing power the establish whether a network complies with the N-1 principle. Given the fact that the electricity grid is growing enormously in times of the energy transition, it is desirable to do the N-1 calculations as efficient and fast as possible. Quantum computing may provide an outcome. I’m very excited to see what we’ll learn from doing the project.”

If you’re looking for the broad support and understanding of technology that Jelte mentioned, then make sure to check out our news site Enter Quantum . Or if you’re ready to consider commercialization, get your ticket to the 2023 Quantum Computing Summit now!

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