Digital disruption is here to stay. Much like the electronic revolution that led to PCs, mobile phones and smart devices, energy grids are on the verge of a major change. Consider the network of power plants, utilities and power lines comprising energy grids, for a moment. What you effectively have is the largest machine in the world — one that is capable of delivering large amounts of data leading to transformational changes in the industry and our daily lives.
That realization is why I was so excited by the innovations on display at DistribuTECH, the largest annual electric power transmission and energy distribution conference and exhibition, where we showcased the solutions below. Read on to see how Internet of Things (IoT) enables a more intelligent, reliable, and safe and secure grid while also lowering costs for utilities, smart cities and other grid stakeholders. The future of energy does indeed look bright.
Increasing Worker Mobility and Collaboration
Connected wearable technologies are minimizing the non-value-added movement of people by providing relevant and actionable data to workers at the right time to avoid safety hazards and improve efficiency. Connected worker wearables like Recon Jet Pro capture and integrate real-time employee and environmental data that leads to actionable insights. This is ideal for real-time step-by-step maintenance and repairs to a more than 30-years-old deteriorating system.
Bringing Faster, Stronger Analytics to Utilities
As electric utility companies race against time to collect data from the grid, they need to understand which data is relevant, what to store, and what to ignore. SAS integrates streaming data with predictive analytics and visualization to help generate useful insights and improve decision-making.
Monitoring Across the Grid for Efficient Energy Distribution
With the increase in variable distributed energy resources (DERs) — people and renewable energy companies generating and feeding power back into the grid — it’s more challenging for substations to deliver predictable steady-state voltage and current. Utility companies rely on substation metering of secondary voltage and current transformer circuits to detect performance issues, which can be done with a SystemCORP and Intel-developed IEC 61850-compliant merging unit solution.
Improving Situational Awareness and Predictive Maintenance
IoT enables some of the most advanced technologies that provide situational awareness of grid performance. Spirae, a leading provider of DERMS and Microgrid control, offers innovative tools for integrating and actively managing DERs in terms of power, energy flow and ancillary services, maximizing their value to the grid and other parties. National Instruments delivers monitoring and predictive maintenance solutions for pumps and generation transformers that reduce risk and cost.
Accelerating Grid Solutions by Connecting Assets
IoT gateways are available to help accelerate the delivery of solutions in the energy industry, particularly with respect to smart grid distribution management systems. Examples include devices from AAEON, Advantech, Dell and NEXCOM. A smart and connected grid using IoT solutions could increase reliability and reduce power outages thanks to smart meters located at DERs and sensors embedded into transmission lines.
Pursuing New Lines of Business Through IoT Technology Partnerships
With the help of IoT technologies, utilities can more easily participate in new market segments. One example is the offering from Alarm.com that integrates all mission critical systems in the home into a single service. Another opportunity is to create smart building management solutions for small and mid-size buildings using the Intel Building Management Platform integrated with CANDI PowerTools.
This is a tremendously exciting time when we have an opportunity for transformational improvements to our current grid-control paradigm. In order to meet our planet’s growing energy needs, utilities require a fundamental change in how to control an ever more complex system. We look forward to continuing to work together to help the energy industry navigate the new technologies and diverse market sectors on the road ahead.