What a change a few years makes. When we first began sharing information about smart grid trends, the utilities industry was markedly different than it is today—smart grid was more theoretical than practical, and for that reason, many executives were hesitant to invest in it. Now, as America’s infrastructure continues to age, there is a growing need for utility companies to modernize—and with that comes an increasingly receptive attitude toward smart grid technology.
More and more utility executives are realizing the opportunities smart grid provides: in particular, that access to more real-time data and better technology that helps them make smarter business decisions. Based on our daily conversations with utility companies leaders, we’ve identified the top 10 smart grid trends utilities say they plan to invest in through the end of 2018. Here they are:
Top 10 Smart Grid Trends For 2017 & 2018
1. FeederAutomation. A key component of distribution automation, feeder automation includes software and hardware that monitors the condition of electric lines and helps utilities improve reliability for their customers.
2. AdvancedMeteringInfrastructure (AMI). Comprised of advanced technology like “smart meters,” AMI is commonly associated with Smart Grid.
3. Meter Data Management Systems (MDMS). AMI implementations can’t succeed without the tools to manage, store, and correlate the interval data sets smart meters provide.MDMS is an essential component to any smart meter rollout and offers utilities a tool for basic coordination of their meter reads.
4. Demand Response. A mechanism utilities use to incentivize customers to reduce their electric consumption, demand response can be a useful tool in helping to manage electric systems during peak demand and in some cases defer investment in new power plants.
5. Analytics. With analytics, utilities can appropriate data from smart devices in a way that allows them to better understand events and trends. Ultimately, it provides the capacity to calculate the outcome of events that, in the past, have been unpredictable and uncontrollable.
6. Distribution Management Systems. These systems concern operational control of smart grids, for example, the ability to monitor currents and voltages in the distribution grid and issue commands to remote units such as switches and transformers. (Source)
7. Geographic Information Systems. A GIS is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze and manage geographical data within a utility’s service territory.
8. Workforce Management. In order for utilities to most effectively schedule appointments, dispatch field agents, and increase on-time responses they will leverage a mobile workforce solution in order to track operations in real time.
9. Outage Management Systems. Operators of electric distribution systems use outage management systems to assist in the restoration of power.
10. Asset Management Systems. These solutions provide a unified approach to monitoring and measuring the conditions of a utility’s diverse and disparately located assets.
Utilities can’t afford not to learn about this technology. Trends show smart grid will continue its growth, and utilities executives need to shift their mindsets and accept their need for platforms they can integrate, so they can be better equipped to understand what’s going on with their infrastructure at all times.
What does this mean for vendors?
Vendors would do well to pay attention to these smart grid trends and commit to selling into the utilities market. Energy Acuity has early-stage smart grid opportunities and projects available that can help you take the marketplace trends we’ve identified above and capitalize on them. Our web application can help you identify the best utilities opportunities for your company, so you can beat the competition in bidding for projects.