Smart Grid & IoT: A Combination to Outset Next Energy Revolution

Information Technology is redesigning & revamping the Energy & Utility (E&U) sector in every aspect. The world is transforming power sources to green, renewable energy radicals and is implementing complex demanding management methods. IT is working as a catalyst & a critical engine in the transitions, whether implementing Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) solutions, addressing the customer management environment, or managing other key areas in power generation, distribution and customer services stratum.

The catalyst is contributing in the energy sector through the dedicated combination of both software & hardware designed in conjunction with the energy industry. The energy sector has implemented Internet of Things (IoT) to change the way we consume, generate, transmit and distribute energy in the connected era. The Present connected energy market, which includes applications related to the generation and transportation of electrical energy, micro-generation, smart grid and distribution monitoring and smart metering, is estimated to be worth around USD$11.7 billion. This huge investment and potential market conditions have driven the development of the “Smart Grid,” and further technological developments have made it more practical. The smart grid is an electricity generation, transmission and distribution network enhanced by automated (digital) controls, auditing and telecommunications capabilities. It has enabled automated, bidirectional flow of information while providing real-time, two-way flow of electrical energy. Consequently, the stakeholders involved in the electricity chain–from generation plant to dwelling, industrial and commercial users–gain insight of both electrical power flow and the infrastructure transporting it.

Existing infrastructure is becoming smarter with the deployment of new digital equipment and smart devices. This new intelligence is connecting all electrical assets and forming a smart world of complex equipment which can be described as an ‘Internet of Watts’ – but which is, in fact, an example of the Internet of Things (IoT) in action. The IoT has helped in establishing internet connectivity with energy producing plants, equipment and devices. IoT is also connecting these devices to intelligent networks and using data analytics to extract meaningful and actionable insights from devices. In the context of the smart grid technology, this means allocating computing intelligence throughout the infrastructure. Smart grid provides a wide range of operations which start with embedded sensors used in wind turbine vanes that control its pitch, rotation & function in real-time response to changing wind conditions, to sub-station control systems that respond promptly to events and minimizes production downtime primarily occurs due to network both cases.

However, the real vision of Internet of Things (IoT) is that it develops spaces or opportunities to realize the potential of data gathered through the cloud that resides in existing un-interfaced infrastructures, using data analysis to extract insight and intelligence from smart devices. After data compilation from every aspect of the electricity supply chain, system engineers can implement simulation models, powerful analytics and what-if scenarios to create precise predictions about grid status & associated conditions. Possibilities associated with predictive analytics and its transition operation from reactive to proactive are the defining and most important features of a smart grid. It enables electrical companies and grid system operators to utilize smart grid technology in:

Trimming Capital Expenses

With the advent of IoT in smart grid, a precise match between demand and supply across the grid becomes possible. The companies associated with electricity generation become able to meet peak demand without redundant generation of electricity and at the same time can also trace efficient distribution paths, minimizing transmission costs and ensuring optimum asset operation.

Call-for Management

Deeper insight into consumption arrangement in combination with smart grids predictive ability allows implementation of the large number of energy conservation initiatives, including demand-response, time-of-day usage fees and dynamic pricing. Smart grids are maintaining a proper balance between demand & supply and minimize the wastage caused by over-provisioning by base or peak load.

Higher Renewable Capability

Renewable energy, whether generated from onshore or offshore, can be incorporated into the energy mix. Services can interact effectively to intermittency through the industrial-scale renewable plant as well as with small-scale distributed generation while ensuring the security of continuous supply.

Decrease in Maintenance Costs

Having a deeper look into the activity of various processes involved in electricity generation, transmission and asset distribution enables implementation of rapid processes used while diagnosing remote faults, minimizes the need of frequent site visits and enable high predictive maintenance for more efficient technical support provided by engineering teams on areas of greatest need.

Comply with Regulations

By having greater the inclination towards the use of renewable energy, supporting more efficient methods of energy generation, transmission, distribution and aiding more efficient ways for lesser consumption; digitalization of electricity and utility companies can meet regulatory obligations along with reducing carbon emissions. Implementation of smart grids in the electrical industry can help in the emission reduction to 20 percent below the 1990 levels by the year 2020, to 54-68 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and to nearly 100 percent below 2020 levels by 2050.

Augment User Engagement

Competition inside the deregulated markets and energy savings targets of certain regulated markets can be overcome through the implementation of smart grids. Electrical companies are using the smart grids as a solution in developing an accurate picture of customers’ usage patterns to develop more sophisticated & tailored products and service offerings.

The smart grid technology is helping electrical companies in developing capabilities to proffer tomorrow’s technology solutions in the E&U domain. However, there is still a huge runway for growth. Smart grid technology can enormously encourage operators to act now to capitalize this clear market opportunity with the development in the IoT.