The utility industry is experiencing its most dynamic and exciting period yet. Data and analytics are more critical in modernizing the country's electricity grid.
FREMONT, CA: Adapting and modernizing the U.S. energy grid to satisfy the rising need for cleaner, reliable electricity is a daily occurrence in the headlines. The nation's power grid has been stretched to its limit by power outages caused by storms or safety incidents in some areas. Regulatory bodies and consumers both demand solutions.
The utilities respond—with ample funding for infrastructure upgrades and widespread consumer support for projects addressing the challenges of an aging power delivery infrastructure, the stage is set for the rapid evolution of the power distribution grid.
The following priorities will determine the success of electric utilities in 2022—in the utility industry, staying ahead of these technological trends can provide a competitive edge.
Data will aid utilities in enhancing their current grid infrastructure: A more robust grid may incorporate the undergrounding of wires, the replacement of aging equipment, the management of vegetation, and the prioritization of modernization projects. Presently, utilities collect network data via supervisory control, acquisition, and energy management systems, but the data is uploaded and processed at a prohibitive pace.
A more efficient grid requires real-time information. In the absence of it, utilities will not be able to keep up with the increasing demand for their services. Utilities can prioritize modernization projects and lay the groundwork for future operations with this tool.
Utilities prioritize gaining access to real-time data at the network's edge in 2022. (e.g., a home, business, or charging station). Distribution grid line sensors will provide actionable information regarding power usage patterns, line disturbances, and grid stability. This information will be used to improve the perimeter of the grid.
Solar and wind power generation at the periphery, combined with conventional generation, will necessitate increased monitoring and control: Operators must have more sight and control of the grid's edge due to the impact of renewable energy, electric vehicles on demand spikes, and bidirectional power flow, features that were not included in grid designs when most of the distribution system in the U.S. was established.
In response to the demand for renewable energy, grid-connected rooftop solar increased by 19 percent in 2020 and is projected to grow further. Several innovative companies are integrating rooftop wind turbines into the network. These new energy sources at the grid's periphery force the grid to accommodate bidirectional power flow, which can have a negative impact on grid stability and voltage quality.
High demand at the edge from charging electric vehicles (E.V.s) is already causing spikes in demand—challenges for efficient grid operations that will only intensify as E.V.s proliferate. By 2050, 31 percent of the world's light-duty vehicles will be electric, up from 0.7 percent in 2020.
In 2022, utilities will emphasize grid reliability and resilience in the face of edge changes. Utilities will use more sensors and sophisticated analytics to capture and analyze grid data to prevent disruptions and outages. Data-driven insights are critical to these organizations' efforts to ensure quality and reliability.
Data and analytics will increase the industry's efficiency: By monitoring and analyzing the specifics of power distribution and consumption, data collection and analysis advancements enable utilities to become more efficient by providing the insights and visibility necessary to reduce downtime. Power distribution is more precise and controlled with the help of data in 2022 when utilities use it to enhance efficiency and dependability. Utilities can monitor the distribution network's real-time status and use data to predict failures and prevent problems before they occur.