Smart Grids are on the rise. Thanks to the Smart Grid Investment Grant Program, which invested $8 billion into smart grid rollout between 2010 and 2015, more than 75 million smart grids that been installed nationwide.¹ Over the next decade, investment in smart grids is expected to reach $110 billion.²
Despite heavy investment, it is still important to carefully manage costs in order to provide the highest quality service at affordable costs – especially as electricity demand rises. Smart grid products don’t just offer a way to build and manage smart grids, they also offer opportunities for substantial cost savings when leveraged correctly. Here are five smart grid products utilities can use to provide quality service at lower costs.
Cost-Cutting Smart Grid Products
Distribution and Demand Response Management
The demand and supply of electricity are unlike any other sector in the world, incorporating both traditional and sustainable energy sources in the same grid. This makes being able to effectively manage distribution and respond to fluctuations in demand, and how those demands are met, essential if utilities want to improve service and maximize profitability.
Distribution and demand response management tools let operators view, manage and control the supply, demand, and use of their energy. They can also help optimize delivery, manage energy sources, and capture cost savings. Electric load can be reduced during peak times, for instance, so that expensive infrastructure upgrades can be deferred.
Energy storage is essential if smart and distributed networks are to become a viable reality. The savings potential is huge. In the UK alone, new installations are expected to generate £8 billion worth of savings by 2030.³ Globally, it’s estimated that the energy storage market will double six times by the same year.
There are already a number of different solutions that utilities can invest in such as lithium batteries and AI tools that use analytics to reduce battery degradation. Investing in high-quality storage will help ensure utilities don’t lose power at times of high generation and low demand, improving ROI.4
Outages are expensive. It has been estimated that the national cost of outages in 2014 was $110 billion,5 a number that likely increased in following years and will continue to rise as urbanization increases.
But outages don’t have to be common or as expensive as they have been in the past. Outage analytics connect to your smart grid’s outage management system and provides the ability to predict, prevent, detect, assess, and respond to outages more quickly than ever before. This equates to fewer and shorter unplanned outages, less lost revenue, improved compliance, and higher customer satisfaction.
AMI Infrastructure and Analytics
A key aspect of smart grid IoT technology, deploying smart meters is one of the early steps for utilities that are creating a smart grid. Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) enables two-way communication between utilities and customers so utilities can gather more complete data.
AMI works well with advanced analytics applications that help ensure consistent performance and maximize the return on investment. Real-time monitoring and rapid communication make it easier that operations remain running smoothly. If anomalies occur with smart meters or the power supply, the root cause can be detected and repaired rapidly in order to avoid loss of revenue. Most AMI analytics tools use machine learning to better process data and highlight insights, so your team can do more with less, cutting costs by making your staff more efficient.
Smart Grid Security
Smart grids are already under threat from cyber attacks. One report has shown that the U.S. grid is attacked once every four days, equating to roughly 100 times in a year.6 As more and more of the energy sector moves to smart grid infrastructure, the threat of debilitating cyber attacks become ever more serious. This makes smart grid security an essential compliance and cost-saving tool for utilities.
There are a number of security systems developed specifically for smart grid systems that, if implemented, can reduce the cost of downtime, restoration, and long-term reputational loss caused by successful attacks.
Smart Grid Products Deliver More than Just Cost Savings
Smart grid products like, advanced metering infrastructure, outage analytics, cybersecurity, and other tools systems deliver huge benefits to customers and utilities. According to a report by the U.S. Department of Energy, smart grid product benefits include reduced costs for metering and billing, more customer control, lower utility capital expenditure, and lower outage costs.7
Whether utilities are looking to reduce costs, improve their service or increase regulatory compliance, there is a suite of smart grid products to help. When choosing the smart grid products you’re investing in, start with your most basic needs and high-cost areas, then work your way through everything needed to fully modernize your grid.