What Are the Most Important Technology Trends Affecting the Utility Industry?
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What Are the Most Important Technology Trends Affecting the Utility Industry?

By CIOReview | Thursday, December 2, 2021

FREMONT, CA: Providing safe, affordable, and reliable energy has necessitated constant adaptation to changing market and regulatory conditions. The difficulty has only gotten worse as emerging technologies continue to reshape the utility industry. And the pace of change is quickening.

Data and Analytics Convergence

  • Utilities can improve their preparedness and resilience by incorporating sensors, artificial intelligence, and machine learning into their systems. Severe weather is one such instance. By forecasting the impact of historical weather patterns on the grid, utilities can prepare crews and equipment to restore power and minimize outages.

  • Additionally, smart meters, IoT device analytics, and cloud-based solutions are data collection points. This enables leaders to determine whether tools are appropriately implemented and whether everyone uses the same data.

Advancing the Renewable Energy Transition

As the energy sector transitions to solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources, forward-thinking utilities are leveraging new technologies to facilitate the process.

  • With the increased use of distributed energy resources (DERs) and smart home devices, utilities are looking for new ways to leverage data to create innovative customer connections.

  • If EV adoption continues at its current rate, utilities will face grid-edge peak load impacts—especially on hot days when people return home from work and plug in their vehicles. A single EV can more than double the energy consumption of a typical home.

  • EVs and batteries/microgrids enable utilities to engage more directly with their customers, mainly by encouraging use during peak periods.

New Grid Security Tools

The more decentralized the grid becomes, the more entry points for cybersecurity threats become available.

  • Through IoT and edge devices, technology has enabled a greater degree of interconnectivity to manage operations. This increases the number of possible entry points for malicious actors. Advanced analytics tools can monitor data streams originating from both the distribution grid and the communication network for indications of intrusion or manipulation. This enables utilities to identify and address potential weak points in real-time.

Enhancing Safety and Training

Recruiting, training, and retaining skilled workers continues to be a significant challenge for the industry. Utilities are utilizing new technologies to provide necessary training to employees and to enhance job site safety.

  • Employees can train for hazardous jobs and hone their skills using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) without being in physical danger.

  • Drones can be a handy tool for utility companies, allowing them to inspect and maintain powerlines and other distributed utility equipment without endangering workers.