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More Clean Energy Through Digitalization

Priyanka Mohapatra's picture
Application Services Expert OMICRON electronics GmbH

Priyanka Mohapatra works as an Application Services Expert in OMICRON helping utilities across the globe to transition to digital substations. Prior to joining OMICRON, Priyanka successfully led...

  • Member since 2021
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Bill Gates’ “How to avoid a climate disaster” [1], is a deep dive into all aspects of society where changes are needed to achieve Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050. The key takeaway for me is that availability and abundance of clean energy is one of the key requirements to achieve Net Zero in all aspects of human interactions and existence on this planet.

My own interpretation after finishing the book is that, in order to create this omnipresence of clean energy (focus being electricity), we need a power grid, that is flexible to accommodate intermittent generation. However, often the only solutions widely talked about on the roadmap to create this flexibility, under the umbrella term “smart grid”, are those of storage, electric vehicles and smart meters.

In my opinion, there will be no complete smart grid without smart transmission and distribution power grid networks and a smart electricity market. In the same vein, there will be no smart transmission and distribution power networks and a smart electricity market, without digitalisation. However, unfortunately many network owners and operators are struggling with digitalisation, a key innovation required to achieve Net Zero. The good news, most of the challenges with digitalisation of power networkshave already state-of-the art solutions in other sectors such as in telecommunications, health care and to an extent in transport industry.

The question is how to bring these digital solutions into power networks, why it is critical that we do so and what are the big challenges that need innovation. I highlight three of the key digital technologies 1. Digital Substations 2. Wide Area Fast Acting Schemes 3. Digital Twins as examples, for deeper analysis.

 

 

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Thank Priyanka for the Post!
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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Apr 15, 2021

The good news, most of the challenges with digitalisation of power networks, have already state-of-the art solutions in other sectors such as in telecommunications, health care and to an extent in transport industry.

One of the rare examples where utilities being traditionally slow to move will provide a benefit now!

Have you looked at the Biden infrastructure investment proposal, Priyanka? I'm wondering if you think it includes enough investment to kick start these digitalisation activities, or if perhaps it doesn't go far enough? 

Priyanka Mohapatra's picture
Priyanka Mohapatra on Apr 15, 2021

The plan also proposes $100 billion in funding to update the country’s electric grid and make it more resilient to climate disasters, and of course additionally investing in clean energy sources.

If the grid owners and operators put two and two together, it implies in order to facilitate more clean energy and maintain high network availability, digitalization is a must.  $ 100 billion is a good boost in digitizing grid secondary and automation systems, which are only fraction of CAPEX investments and largely OPEX investments in Utilities (assuming 75-25 split in CAPEX to OPEX in utility TOTEX investments).

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Apr 15, 2021

If the grid owners and operators put two and two together, it implies in order to facilitate more clean energy and maintain high network availability, digitalization is a must.

At the very least, I know we can count on the technology providers to make clear to the grid operators the solution to 2 + 2!

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