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“Information as Innovation” - Key enabler to decarbonize & stabilize power grid

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Jasjeet Singh's picture
Director- OT/AT Oracle Utilities

Jasjeet is trusted advisor for your digital transformation journey & creating new energy services pathways. He has consulted global utilities in defining value-driven Corp Strategy, Future...

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  • Mar 27, 2020

This item is part of the Innovations in Power - Spring 2020 SPECIAL ISSUE, click here for more

This article is for CXO’s & strategy managers who are seriously working towards to transform their distribution/ transmission business to future DSO/TSO. Forward looking CEO’s/ CDO’s do not just leverage the “information” to achieve their objectives but make every attempt to “weaponize” it. It does not matter what your corporate or business strategy is, if you haven’t got hold of “Information” which is absolutely required to execute your strategy, and without it, your struggle will continue with board, stakeholders & meeting consumer expectations. Many utilities have well defined strategies & roadmap, but often the “execution strategy” is more theoretical than practical. If you wonder why, the simple answer is requirements of “right data & trusted information” is not well thought through and hence most of strategic plans will fall flat.

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There are many examples when “best of class strategies” could not deliver results due to incomplete or misleading information. Case in point- here is the statement of leading utility in Australia “We would prolong the life of assets while replacing the assets based on condition and not age” BUT they only have one (major) challenge to achieve this objective which is “Lack of right data & trusted information”.

Measure, Manage & Monetize Framework

In order to realize the business benefits & deliver the savings to consumers & stakeholders, monetizing the information becomes critically important. Before we get into information framework discussion, few questions to consider for utilities-

  • Do you treat information as an actual asset?
  • Do you apply similar accounting & asset management principles for your information?
  • Do you identify/ leverage indirect ways of monetizing your information?
  • Have you determined the “value of information” yet?

Most of organization’s response would be “No” to above questions.

This framework (given below) provides utilities a methodology to measure, manage & monetize the information as “real tangible asset”. You can leverage this framework by having well defined information management plan, key data steward roles and designing Conceptual & Logical data models. Next step would be to measure the information- which can be done in different ways. You can evaluate the quality/ completeness of data, value it can provide to business (once they’ve access to it) and how does the economics stack up? Finally, you can identify indirect monetization strategies while leveraging the information already residing into IT/OT systems.

Almost every utility has small-mid range groups focusing on innovation, what’s coming next and emerging technologies & trends. It is however not sure, how those investments stack up as return to stakeholders/ shareholders or consumers. When promoting innovation in different parts of utilities business, framework given below can help to qualify for “Responsible Innovation to value-led innovation” use-cases.


How utilities can embed Information to their Innovation Initiatives?

When utilities embark on innovation agenda, they should start thinking beyond their own data to deliver larger & better benefits. It should be comprehensive approach where reverse engineering methodology is considered. For example, if utility would like to plan for their future networks expansion by being contextually aware of societies & communities’ preferences, they must think backwards, i.e. what all data/ information is needed to build or plan for the future networks such as, do we know about the preferences of microgrids, community networks, electric vehicles, batteries, behind the wall preferences etc. Once utilities gather right information, they can start modelling the outputs in logical & sequential ways. Another example could be around building the “new energy services” landscape, rather being doing business of moving electrons only. This again would go back to understanding list of all new “products or services” which customers are likely to buy, and not just buy, but buy it from their trusted energy delivery partners. Once you’ve got the list, advanced analytics & modelling experts can start constructing the personalized offerings algorithms. There are many examples, which can clearly demonstrate the value of data/ information which is an absolute requirement if utility executives were to be successful in their transformational journey.

Key “Information” traits

In many ways, information is unique such as “reusable” (no constraints on leveraging I, V, pf etc data to solve multiple use-cases), it can be “replicated” easily (to enable future DSO markets), it is not taxed and can be transferred to 3rd party systems/ vendors who may build useful apps for consumers. The benefits from information modeling are exponential, if you have mastered to use it in right ways, in right systems and with right set of use-cases.

Utilities have most valuable asset (information) sitting inside their ecosystem, there is just simple massaging & nourishment is required to make it work wonders for your business. Once the information is trusted, complete and identified with value it can deliver, next steps would be to build advanced analytics/ self-learning models which are most likely to deliver better outcomes

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Mar 27, 2020

Most of organization’s response would be “No” to above questions.

Definitely agree that most organizations would fall behind the curve on these questions. Are there any specific types or subsets of organizations that you think are doing well on these issues though? I'm curious if it's pretty pervasive across all sectors or if there are leaders who are treating it differently already?

Jasjeet Singh's picture
Jasjeet Singh on Apr 3, 2020

Thanks Matt.

Yes, unfortunately the response to most of questions is "No" but that needs to change as quickly as it can. Leveraging Information as Asset will help utilities unlock multiple business benefits and there are many use-cases that helps to reap the benefits.

I think there are very few companies, who are treading down this path, so as to make most of existing data/ information assets to enhance their "physical" assets life & performance. Similarly, there are some TSO's who are maximising their ATC/TTC (transmission capabilities) by leveraging the information from IoT sensors and dynamic ratings.

The purpose of leveraging "Information as Asset" is actually to take comprehensive look at corporate-wide opportunities and make investments to "weaponize" their capabilities to fight with ever changing resource-mix & DER's on grid networks.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Apr 3, 2020

This unfortunate that the lack of foresight is pervasive across different sectors of the industry, but as you point out at least that means the power industry is primed for key opportunities. Will be interesting to see who steps up to the plate and at what rate. 

Chris Law's picture
Chris Law on Apr 4, 2020

Great article Jasjeet.

From my experience, there has always been a lot of focus on Kwh data and customer sharing, notwithstanding this is not the real value lies for the future.

no constraints on leveraging I, V, pf etc data to solve multiple use-cases

This is exactly what we see.  Transformer virtualisation, hosting capacity management, service conductor monitoring, fault identification etc all use this data in different ways.  the trick is to marry this data with the right existing asset and network data to create the value.

Jasjeet Singh's picture
Jasjeet Singh on Apr 5, 2020

Thanks Chris. This is exactly what creates the value "marrying the data-sets to produce the insights" which otherwise is not available with singular information. There is so much can be done with some basic data levers, they're like base ingredient for cooking multiple recipes :)

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