Utility companies using smart grids and IoT devices are seeing a deluge of data. Unlike traditional utilities, smart grid electricity companies have access to data coming from the grid itself, its individual components, renewable energy sources, and consumers. What’s more, data isn’t simply flowing one way. Instead, it tracks bidirectionally amongst and between utilities, its providers, and customers to control, monitor and coordinate equipment in the grid.
With all this data in play, smart utilities can leverage a more complete view of their operations to improve performance. Here are eight ways electricity companies can put data from their smart grids and IoT devices to work and get measurable results.
7 Ways to Use Smart Grid Data at Your Electricity Company
1. Project Asset Performance and Optimize Investment
Your smart grid’s biggest benefit is bringing assets and other grid components into the smart grid ecosystem, generating data that can be analyzed to better identify trends. With this information, utilities can project asset performance levels during different events and times of the year. This can, in turn, be used to better plan operations and forecast asset investments based on at-risk assets and what’s performing highly. The results are higher performing assets, fewer failures, and improved capital spending.
2. Enable Predictive Maintenance
Systems that are equipped with machine learning technologies can use asset analytics to review grid performance and evaluate potential risks. Analytics tools predict asset failures and maintenance needs, enabling electricity companies to create predictive maintenance schedules.
Predictive maintenance proactively resolves issues at the very early signs of a problem, or even before they occur, based on asset analytics. This offers plenty of benefits: reducing or fully avoiding unplanned outages, speeding up the response time to issues, and decreasing maintenance costs.
3. Prevent Outages
Outage duration and frequency are key metrics tracked by utilities. And, while the goal is to lower these numbers, electricity companies often lack the insights to do so. Access to reliable asset analytics with both historical and real-time data from smart grids changes that.
Outage analytics applications in smart grids can analyze data to predict future outages and their causes so electricity companies can take proactive steps to prevent them. Smart grid data can also help electricity companies detect, assess and respond to outages that do occur effectively and efficiently.
4. Forecast Energy Demands
Smart grids capture both historical and real-time usage data. Utilities can use that data to get a clear picture of energy demands by season, event and other specific time periods. With that information, electricity companies can better forecast energy demands and ensure they can meet needs at different times and in different situations.
Often part of service and customer satisfaction plans, accurately forecasting and responding to energy demands helps ensure there are fewer unplanned shortages, brownouts, and blackouts.
5. Improve Resource Allocation
Combining data to forecast energy demands with weather forecasting can result in powerful insights that utility companies can use to allocate energy resources. Depending on the insights provided, they can select between traditional power generation, solar energy, wind power or another renewable energy source that is best suited at the moment. As renewable energy becomes more of a necessity, balancing traditional resources with renewable power sources will be essential to meeting energy demands and increasing sustainability.
6. Predict Growth Needs
Urbanization is driving the need for more power in cities. According to the Population Reference Bureau, 82 percent of Northern America, 78 percent of Latin America and the Caribbean, and 74 percent of Europe was urbanized by 2018.¹ That trend will only continue, putting more pressure on electricity companies and forcing them to grow with demand.
Using data from smart grids, utility companies can identify where and how much growth is expected in their areas. This information can then be used to better plan future investments and expansion opportunities, as well as determine which energy sources or new assets will be needed.
7. Educate Consumers to Improve Energy Efficiency
Increasing power demands necessitate not only growth and renewable energy sources, but consumer education as well. The more eco-friendly your customers, the more likely your utility is to grow sustainably and meet future demands
Use your smart grid data to generate insights on power use, then sharing those insights about individual consumption and peak use times with your customers. Provide tips that will enable customers to make responsible decisions from energy sustainability and financial perspectives. Plus, by sharing recommendations to customers to improve their energy use will be a welcomed value-added service.
Make the Most of Your Smart Grid Data with Advanced AI Analytics
Often, the biggest barrier to using smart grid data effectively is getting all your assets connected and effectively processing the data they produce. Traditional enterprise systems aren’t equipped to handle such vast volumes of data from so many devices. Instead, to achieve the benefits described above, systems will need to be updated with AI capabilities and machine learning.
AI tools such as asset analytics, outage management systems with machine learning analytics, and smart meter intelligence, can process data faster and more effectively than traditional systems, feeding valuable insights to your team. Staff can then use that data to help drive efficiency, sustainability and uptime, all the while reducing risk and improving overall performance.