Partnerships with the quantum industry are essential for optimizing the power grid: DOE official
Written by Dave Nyczepir
The Department of Energy (DOE) needs more public-private partnerships if it hopes to advance quantum information science (QIS) to the point where it can optimize the U.S. electricity grid, said Rima Kasia Oueid , responsible for marketing.
Kasia Oueid’s Office of Technology Transitions was established by Congress in 2015 and tasked with expanding the business impact of DOE’s research and development portfolio, and this includes accelerating the adoption of quantum computing.
The increase in energy consumption in the United States has prompted the DOE, through its national laboratories and industrial partners, to develop new quantum computing technologies. It is hoped that such technology will help the country adapt to the ever-changing energy demand and renewable energy sources.
âThere has been growing interest in the energy sector around combinatorial optimization, especially for grid management for example,â said Kasia Oueid, speaking at the Emerging Technologies conference on Tuesday. and the innovation of ACT-IAC.
âQuantum optimization algorithms could be combined with classical algorithms, or at least verified by classical means, and could provide us with some degree of comfort earlier in the algorithm development space when applied to these optimization-type use cases. â
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Solving quantum encryption over long distances could help different utilities integrate energy flow between facilities and devices, while protecting power grid communications from cyber attacks.
Experts say the development of quantum cryptography in tandem with the latest generation of supercomputers is necessary to ensure U.S. national security.
Quantum-secure cryptography efforts are “well advanced” in developing algorithms that IT companies will eventually sell in packages that bring them into the Internet, said Carl Williams, deputy director of the physical measurement lab at the National Standards Institute and technology.
China is also investing in the distribution of quantum keys (QKD) for encryption, which could pose a threat to US national security if it exploits the technology on its own.
âWe don’t know what we don’t know of the benefits that could come from working on this technology,â said Kasia Oueid.
The DOE has spent over $ 1 billion on QIS over the past two years, counting that even a twice increase in compute speeds could provide a significant edge in the market.
And while all of the major players like IBM, Microsoft, Google and Honeywell are in quantum space, so are an âincredibleâ amount of startups like Rigetti Computing, Zapata Computing and QC Ware, Williams said.
âWe were the first on Mars, but China already has a rover there, so now they’re second after Mars,â said Gabe Chang, quantum ambassador at IBM. “So understand our environment, consciousness, understand quantum domains for development [is key]. “
The National Quantum Initiative Act of 2018 required NIST to establish a quantum economic development consortium to develop the supply chain, which is still in its infancy.
This supply chain will be global in nature because the United States simply will not be a leader in developing all of the components needed for quantum computers.
âWe won’t end up having all of the key technologies needed to build these types of devices,â said Williams.
Quantum computers remain “noisy, mid-scale” systems that are not yet correctable and will take another decade to perfect, Williams added. Quantum networks are even further afield as technology from memory components to repeaters is needed.
Optimizing the power grid is not the only reason the DOE is investing heavily in quantum computing.
The Office of Science has announced a funding opportunity that allows researchers to build applications using quantum algorithms to solve self-fusion, while the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy believes quantum artificial intelligence could optimize manufacturing processes.
âEveryone is interested in quantum for different reasons,â said Kasia Oueid.