Why utilities are using data analytics
Landis + Gyr, March 1, 2016. Image credit: W.Rebel
Improving network operations and planning
At grid level, distribution management systems monitor circuit loading and aggregate data from a large number of intelligent devices such as smart meters, grid sensors and mobile devices being used by engineers in the field that need to be processed to enable operational and business decision making. Collecting and correlating multiple data sources allows organizations to gain insights that individual data alone does not provide. This exponential growth of data has made analytics essential for the energy industry and grid management, in particular. Thanks to grid analytics, network operators are now able to improve grid resilience through outage prevention planning, i.e., carrying out preventive maintenance and dispatching crews before there is an interruption to services. Furthermore, smart metering in combination with analytics can detect irregular or changing consumption patterns that could suggest energy loss. To track technical losses, operators can use analytics data from the distribution system that leverages data from Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) systems with feeder-level usage information. Nontechnical losses are easier to quantify (energy delivered minus energy consumed) but they are more difficult to pinpoint without analytics that compares usage data from demographically similar premises, and analyzes changes in historical data for a single premise. Advanced asset management analytics provides comprehensive views of asset health that help utilities to extend their lifecycle, perform risk analyses and calculate the return on investment on potential repairs and upgrades. Analytics can also have a great impact on the the utility’s integration plan for renewable energies. It quantifies the potential load balancing and power quality issues that photovoltaics and other renewable energy sources will create for the circuits, as well as the amount and type of grid investments needed to support them.
Enhancing customer relations
On the consumer side of things, utilities are not just using smart meters to collect data for calculating household bills but as a demand response tool to support their marketing and pricing strategies – not only for revenue protection but also to enhance customer relations. The new intelligent networks have opened the door to the collection of real-time multiple sources of data flowing through the organization while software analytics greatly improve the capability of utility managers to advance grid operations, optimize distribution system and protect revenues.
By 2017, 45% of utilities’ new investment in analytics will be used in operations and maintenance of plant and network infrastructure.1
The U.S. market for utility customer analytics software will surpass $1 billion by 2018 and $2 billion by 2023.2