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The heart of utilities’ business is the safe, reliable delivery of electricity.
As network operators strive to achieve this goal in an increasingly digital world, their efforts to improve grid performance are primarily focused around three, key trends:
Explore how the wealth of data and analytics used to optimize operations are opening up new value-oriented ways to operate the grid and, in combination with evolving regulation, how they will also help drive the next wave of investment in smart grid.
Utilities are currently upgrading existing systems and deploying new ones to improve reliability, security and maintain reliable operations as distributed energy resources are added to the grid.
Some utilities are already discovering limitations in the systems they have deployed, while other leading-edge companies are exploring next-generation solutions. Such initiatives are generally being taken using an evolutionary rather than “big bang” approach, seeking incremental benefits through more effective management of the existing network, while simultaneously developing new management and control strategies to address emerging challenges.
The data and analysis used to determine necessary operational changes are opening doors for potential new ways to operate the grid, including the opportunity for implementing value-oriented approaches. The wealth of data and analytics will also drive, in coordination with the regulatory environment, the next wave of funding in smart grid solutions.
Transmission and distribution network operators around the world are responding to a number of major challenges to ensure the ongoing safe, reliable delivery of electricity.
As these trends gain momentum, utilities are responding by taking a number of steps to enhance their grid operations capabilities, such as implementing new grid management applications, tightening their focus on grid economics, driving enterprise integration and IT/OT convergence and moving toward distributed intelligence.
Such initiatives are generally being taken using an evolutionary rather than “big bang” approach, seeking incremental benefits through more effective management of the existing network, while simultaneously developing new management and control strategies to address emerging challenges.
The evolution of grid operations will require the adoption of a holistic approach to change that encompasses people, process and technology. It translates into a major overhaul of the utility organization beyond grid operations and it requires development of new skills, enhanced risk management and migration to a new set of supporting systems to allow for effective management of assets and investments.
We see a shift to developing metrics to help establish leading practices. In the post-stimulus funding era, leaders will likely identify discrete, surgical opportunities to implement improved monitoring and control where there is a clear business case. These smaller-scale deployments will limit the risks related to large-scale changes in operations and they may remain under manual rather than automated control in the shorter term until an operational need requires the change.
We also see utilities developing an increasing interest in analytical tools and methodologies to help most effectively derive value from smart grid technologies. Accenture’s perspective is that this focus on analytics and the achieved results will trigger the next wave of significant spending on smart grid solutions.
We expect practical applications of distributed intelligence to arrive in the market at a similar time and that the combination of smart grid technologies, analytical tools and bundled distributed intelligence will allow utilities to manage their operations in a significantly different manner.
Read the full report for insights on the paths ahead for grid operations and the role of smart grid solutions in enhancing operation of the future digital grid.
October 30, 2013
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