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Utility Leader - If You Were to Prioritize One Investment. Now.

image credit: A digital twin allows tracing from a high voltage substation through the medium voltage grid, through the medium voltage substations and into the low voltage grid - finding all connected loads and production units.
Jens Dalsgaard's picture
Principal Product Owner Volue

Optimizing business processes in the electric utilities calls for IT. Following the monolithic way prevents making optimal use of best of breed solutions in a rapidly developing market. Rather...

  • Member since 2020
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  • Oct 12, 2021
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Electric utilities are facing huge challenges given the transformation of our societies towards widespread distributed energy production units and equally challenging implementation of electric vehicle charging throughout the grid.

The abandoning of oil and coal is a re-calibration of a reality that has been stable for a hundred years.

Until today the answer to increasing consumption and production has been adding bigger cables / overhead lines, transformers, etc. Blindly restricting ourselves to following this path unchanged will become extremely expensive.

Proactive Grid Control

We need to move towards much better predicting grid bottlenecks, and knowing of such, actively control the grid usage. Negotiate with the many load/production points out there to perform load shaving and minimize loads. Negotiate with the many flexibility providers (normally, you would call these flexibility providers 'electric vehicles') postponing charging or even better discharging to meet local peak load.

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This is where grid operation is moving towards. This will not be something the market is ready for tomorrow. Five years from now though, you will see utilities starting to operate their grid proactively. Saving money. Delivering up-time.

The earlier your organization is ready the better your budgets will look.

But, if it isn't ready today - where should you prioritize your efforts and investments?

Focus, Focus, Focus on Your Digital Twin

The answer is obvious - put your money in providing the data quality being the foundation for proactive grid operation.

Which success criteria should you aim for? The answer lies in the omnipresent term: the digital twin.

Your asset registry should hold detailed information on all cables, overhead lines, transformers, breakers, and load/production unit connections. With the impedance information needed for calculating the grid. With asset connected as in the real world - including through substations allowing you to trace throughout the grid - across voltage levels and circuits.

Look at what the most innovative electric utilities are doing in this context. Vendors of the past may not provide the solutions of tomorrow.

Start today.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 12, 2021

This is where grid operation is moving towards. This will not be something the market is ready for tomorrow. Five years from now though, you will see utilities starting to operate their grid proactively. Saving money. Delivering up-time.

This brings up the thought experiment that's always interesting in the utility space-- if we were to be building our modern grid from scratch, rather than adapting and modernizing the massive investment that's been deployed over the decades, would we approach it differently? And I suppose it's not entirely a thought experiment because in developing regions that question is a real one!

So, Jens, do you see any opportunities to do this 'better' in newly built grids in, say, Africa or Asia that are just getting electrified? 

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Jens Dalsgaard on Oct 14, 2021

Certainly. Yet, the solutions for upcoming grids are the same as for existing grid.

Controlling the energy flow proactively. Forecasting / calculating the best use of existing grid connections and available local flexibility resources rather than reactively facing the overloading or blindly adding bigger cables.

Yet, proactivity is based on a high data quality. Hence, the need to focus on the digital twin.

Dimensioning and laying out new grid benefits from high quality data and intelligent analyses.

Doing so from the very beginning, you may dimension the grid intelligently using flexibility services. That is, save money and despite of this ensure a better up-time.

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