Smart grid technology allows power utilities to make significant improvements in their operations and in the delivery of their services. A smart grid system operates efficiently by reducing outages, bringing down costs and empowering customers by giving them the means to manage their electric consumption.
This technology brings together innovations in the IT and Telecommunications sectors to create a grid that is more secure, more efficient and is more smartly managed. A smart grid system usually involves the use of sensors, computers and a communications system in both the transmission and distribution of power.
Because of its clear advantages, many countries are now inclined to upgrade their old energy grids and turn these into smart grids. According to Pike Research, the global market size for smart grid systems will exceed $600 billion by 2020. In the U.S., the grid components market alone is expected to reach $40 billion by 2014 according to BCC Research.
There are many forces driving the smart grid trend. According to Pike Research, one of these is the growing demand for electricity from households to industries to entire nations which puts an incredible amount of pressure on the globe’s traditional power grids. The call for cleaner energy is also a compelling force that pressures the need for power grids to be flexible to allow tapping of non-traditional power sources (solar, wind, etc.).
Smart Metering Systems
Smart meters are among the components of a smart grid system. They identify consumption in greater detail than a traditional meter. Generally, smart meters have the ability to communicate this information to the local power firm via some form of network.
Smart meters allow household level consumers to monitor and manage their electric consumption according to SmartGrid.gov, the U.S. government’s web portal on the matter. Old meters only monitor total consumption but do not provide key information such as when electricity was consumed, that is, time of the day or days of a week, etc.
Importance of Analytics for Smart Meters
While smart grids and smart meters have huge potential, they are also presented with serious challenges. Increased use of smart grid technology means that utilities will be faced with enormous amounts of data that need to be analysed quickly and managed efficiently. A very good tool to do this is an analytics program.
An ideal analytics program is one that works real-time in a proactive manner. This allows the power utility to reduce outages by detecting possible faults in the system before they occur. An important function of an analytics program is to ensure that a certain area is serviced with the right voltage by meeting the expected demand for that section. This results in reduction in line loss.
Smart meters allow remote control over household appliances by allowing customers to power them down or to turn them off to minimize energy consumption and help the power company curtail demand during peak hours. An effective analytics program can help the power company choreograph electricity demand across all consumers.
An analytics tool can help utilities identify which distribution lines and transformers are over stressed and turn down power demand from the consumers’ end.
These are just some of the benefits of applying analytics in smart grid systems. Indeed, its potential has no bounds.