The Internet of Things or IoT has been all the rage in the development of new products in the consumer market and how people use them. But what about IoT applications for manufacturing, or better yet power utilities?
This post is the first in a series of summaries on Deloitte studies. Deloitte is a UK incorporated multinational professional services network. Mostly known for its tax, financial and audit consulting, it also provides reports on technological trends, in this case energy and the Internet of Things. This is a summary of the article The power is on: How IoT technology is driving energy innovation. Key elements are in gray, while my comments are in black. You can download it for free at:
As an electrical engineer or anyone with an interest in power utilities, you will be amazed at how IoT allows engineers to know the exact state of every equipment on the line, precisely locate faults and even start mapping out predictive power consumption models that are based on data, not educated guesses.
Last time, we discovered what is the Internet of Things and how it can transform a traditional power grid into a smart one. Today, i will take you through the 3 phases as recommended by Deloitte on how this can be achieved.
Let’s get started!
Summary of The power is on: How IoT technology is driving energy innovation
Phase 1: Resilience
The initial phase of grid modernization is resilience. Resilience is about grid reliability and durability, a goal made more difficult by the growing trend toward decentralized energy resources.
Because the current system generally has no ability to store electricity, grid operators are constantly balancing the amount of centrally generated electricity injected into the system with demand.
The introduction of large numbers of decentralized, uncontrolled, and unmonitored generators could threaten this balance, degrade power quality, or even potentially endanger the grid and the public.
This tendency to turn towards Distributed Energy Resources or DER is worldwide. Here’s what is going on in California, Germany and Denmark.
Distribued Energy Resources in California
The state of California is pushing beyond its original renewable energy portfolio target of 30 percent in 2020 to 50 percent by 2030.12 A core component of this is the addition of 12,000 MW of power from DERs by 2020.
Germany has been a shining example of wind power generation and integration.
Distribued Energy Resources in Germany
Germany has crossed a symbolic milestone in its energy transition by briefly covering around 100 percent of electricity use with renewables for the first time ever on 1 January 2018.
Sören Amelang, Clean Energy Wire
Here is the rest of the article:
Same thing for Denmark
Distribued Energy Resources in Denmark
Wind turbines delivered power equivalent to 43.6 percent of Denmark’s electricity consumption in 2017.
Jesper Berggreen, Clean Technica
For those interested, here is the complete article:
The smart inverter
A device critical to integrating Distributed Energy Resources or DERs on this scale with the grid is the power inverter, which transforms electricity from direct current to alternating current so that it can be injected into the grid for consumption. However, these products lack the external control functions and communications standards necessary to facilitate mass integration into the grid.
However, solutions to this challenge may be emerging. Adding IoT technology to an inverter can enable intelligent automated local actions and standards-based monitoring and control of the device, making it a “smart inverter.”
Attach an Arduino ESP8266 micro controller and boom, you start measuring and transmitting via the cloud to a database solar illumination, voltage, current and power factor of all solar equipment on the grid. Here is a Youtube video that shows it is possible.
More on the Arduino ESP8266 and the Internet of Things in another blog!
Phase 2: Enablement
The second phase is enablement, in which the aggregation and analysis of collected data enable augmented intelligence and new insights into grid operations and customer interactions.
Say you want to become CEO on the Fortune 500 list, but don’t know where to start. An augmented intelligence app would scan Jobboom and LinkedIn resumes of thousands of CEO across different sectors and industries, establish correlations between such factors as race, gender, school, field of study, contacts, etc. Then given your particular situation, it would provide a probabilistic route to your goal.
That is, who should you meet to advance, what field should you graduate in, what city should you move to, etc. And if impossible, it will still recommend the next best thing, say becoming VP or Director. No more coin tossing and hoping for the best!
Distribution system operators need control points that eliminate the need for human interaction and can handle the increasing number of IoT-enabled devices and applications within the grid.
These control points must manage customer- and third-party-owned assets as well as utility assets. The rapid rise of grid complexity and the accompanying operational systems is quickly outpacing the grid operator’s ability to quickly and effectively assess a situation, create a plan of action, and execute that plan.
Advanced Distribution Management Systems (ADMS)
Advanced Distribution Management Systems (ADMS) are an IoT technology that solution providers are developing to achieve this level of situational awareness.
An ADMS is an integrated software application that takes advantage of new and existing applications to create a unified monitoring and control system.
This control system is required to maintain reliability, leverage all manner of embedded systems and distributed resources, and safeguard property and people from the variability inherent in a modern grid.
Similar to a Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition system (SCADA) in factories, the ADMS allows for reduction the duration of outages and improve the speed and accuracy of outage predictions. With the Intenet of Things, it will allow for improve service reliability by tracking all customers affected by an outage, determining electrical configurations of every device on every feeder, and compiling details about each restoration process.
More on Advanced Distribution Management System and IoT in another post!
Phase 3: Competition/ optimization
Using the data and insights generated in the enablement phase, grid stakeholders are able to make informed business decisions.
Interoperability across the meter from the utility to the customer enables new optimization capabilities and a more efficient use of resources.
An intelligent platform such as an ADMS, composed of various IoT technologies and solutions, can provide the necessary grid intelligence to facilitate stakeholder perspective-driven optimization decisions.
This intelligence enables decisions about what assets are needed and where. For the utility, it means a feeder-level profitability assessment tool is needed to evaluate which investments make sense and which are better suited for the market to satisfy.
Who should we sell power to? Who should we buy it from? At what rate? Should we acquired generation assets or let the private sector do it? These will be questions to which the smart grid will have an answer based on data, not educated guesses.
Beginning the journey
While many observers have commented on aging workforce issues in the electric utility industry, the IoT poses the additional challenge of attracting, developing, and retaining the next-generation workforce, a workforce that is comfortable with the pace, magnitude, and risk of IoT-driven changes.
The rising number of systems involved in the grid means troubleshooting faults will involve marshaling multidisciplinary teams composed of everyone, from data scientists to linemen.
Many utilities see this as a recruiting opportunity to reignite career interest in the industry. It is a chance to offer those entering the workforce opportunities to learn cutting-edge skills and be a part of an industry that is modernizing rapidly.
In many cases, the skills needed to support the new and sophisticated back-office and operational systems are in extremely high demand in other industries.
I am myself an electrical engineer with a power generation background during my university years and electronic background during my college years. My interest in the Internet of Things and Augmented Intelligence have shown me that the smart grid is now emerging in different parts of the world, while being only a concept ten years ago.
It will allow for the efficient use of electricity throughout the grid, integration of intermittent power, but also new power consumption profiles cryptocurrency mining, electrical car recharging and data centers voracious use of electricity.
The utility’s barriers to the adoption of these new IoT tools can be high, but the risk and cost of not pursuing them is greater.
You have discovered the three phases as recommended by Deloitte to transform the traditional power grid into a smart one through the Internet of Things.
In the resilience phase, the safe integration of intermittent source to the grid is made. Then, in the enablement phase, measurement of all connected devices and the analysis of all data will allow new and better power consumption profiling of large and small clients. Finally, the purchase/optimization phase truly allows for the best use of analytics in planification and asset management.
Next post will be a bonus! My two cents on the challenges brought by cryptocurrency mining, data centers and potential cyberattacks on the grid. Stay tuned!