Energy utilities, including transmission and distribution providers, are beginning to generate massive volumes of data from the billions of dollars being invested in smart grid efforts.
And analytics can help energy companies ensure the operational success of smart grids by enabling power companies to more effectively manage the streams of data that smart grid technologies are producing, as an Accenture report reveals.
This data, when applied effectively with analytics, can help energy companies evaluate the returns being generated against the sizable investments they’re making in smart grid technologies.
In addition, big data analytics can help power providers evaluate the areas within their smart grid networks that can be refined or improved and help assess the business benefits being achieved as a result of smart grid investments.
The Accenture report offers 10 leading practices for applying smart grid analytics. These include adopting best practices from other industries such as telecom and capital markets that face comparable challenges in designing architectures to support low-latency analytics.
Accenture cites other leading practices including operationalizing the understanding of customer and network behavior at scale to optimize real-time processes; and designing analytical systems to support the execution of specific business processes that can help improve efficiency and achieve business objectives for enhanced operational excellence.
For instance, since the primary driver behind the use of smart grid technologies is aimed at improving energy efficiency, analytics can be used to identify ways to improve business processes and to determine the business process outcomes that will be impacted.
Another report by GTM Research notes how meter data management – the use of meter or usage data – represents a big challenge for utilities to analyze and act on. However, “in the next wave of innovation, transformer sensors, cap banks, voltage regulators, distributed PV solar panels, and other grid assets will gain the ability to communicate their status updates back to the utility,” according to the report.
A recent panel discussion on the evolution of smart grids points to a few focus areas where there is arguably a strong fit for applying analytics. These include using analytics to determine potential areas of vulnerability to cybersecurity threats (an area that the Pentagon continues to pay closer attention to).
Meanwhile, analytics can also be used by utilities, new market entrants, and even appliance manufacturers to identify potential areas for improving interoperability between, say, household appliances and/or industrial operating equipment with the infrastructure systems used by electricity generators and distributors.
Smart grid analytics will increasingly be used by different players in the energy field to identify ways to create better, more secure, and more efficient grids.
The following statement from the GTM Research report succinctly captures the potential that the use of big data and analytics offers to the smart grid industry: “With the introduction of big data and analytics to the utility industry, the potential of smart grid has shifted dramatically from the original aim of adding a myriad of new applications toward a complete re-invention of the utility business.”