Smart grid technology has the power to ready today’s cities for tomorrow’s needs.
With more than half of the world’s populations concentrated in urban centers, cities will need to explore new opportunities, solutions and systems to keep things running for its people, businesses, and governments.
Municipalities have already added sensors to transmission lines and introduced digitized controls and applications, creating a smart grid. By utilizing Internet of Things technologies, smart grid technology has improved two-way communications between utility companies and its customers and enabled access to near real-time data that is being used to make cost-effective and environment friendlier decisions.
Yet, this is only the beginning.
As more people move into cities, the demands for energy will surge. By 2040 net electricity generation will rise by 69%, compared to 2012 figures, to keep up with consumer demands. This increase will place unprecedented stress on grids that will impact citizens, cities as well as utility infrastructures.
A more intelligent smart grid
This reality, along with evolving environmental regulations, requires governments and companies to bring more advanced IoT technologies into their smart grid ecosystem. From artificial intelligent automation to improved two-way communication and other advanced applications, the smart grid will become smarter.
These new features will do more than digitize century-old grids. Instead, they will innovate new services and solutions that will give suppliers better control over their infrastructure and assets, and consumers and cities can rely on more sustainable and reliable energy sources.
Sustainable and reliable energy
With today’s reliable wireless applications, utilities can interconnect virtually all of their assets. For example, meters and substations can be connected to each other, as well as connect to company vehicles and employee devices. Such connectivity will create never before realized efficiencies.
Here’s an example: a substation experiences a power outage. Today, a consumer will have to recognize that there’s a problem and call their utility provider. From here, the company will schedule field workers to investigate the issue before a course of action can be taken to correct the problem. With the help of sensors and IoT applications, emergency crews will be alerted to a problem in real-time. They will also receive additional data pinpointing the source of the issue. Not only will workers be onsite faster, but they will also be ready to repair the problem once onsite.
A smarter city
We are still in the very early stages of smart grid innovation, and to date, much of it has been developed along vertical applications. However, as IoT advances, the use cases for smart devices and applications will broaden. As they do, cities and its citizens will benefit from solutions that serve multiple purposes.
Take for example smart lighting. Attached with sensors, they helped cities conserve energy while keeping their city streets and parking lots safe. In the future, municipalities could outfit smart lighting systems with additional features that will serve other needs, such as monitoring traffic and connecting citizens to wifi.
We are only at the beginning of the evolution of smart grid technology. As this technology continues to advance and innovative uses of IoT connections are conceived, the smart grid will continue to find ways to create more reliable, sustainable, cost-effective energy grids. Yet, for these opportunities to reach their full potential will require an intelligent platform that can detect, select, track and analyze data in real-time.