Fundamentally, the one thing that would drive the future of the energy and utility industry would be the changing mix and pattern of production and consumption of energy. Energy and utilities are transitioning several fronts that include generation, transmission, distribution and most of all on the customer end. The traditional utility model of a centralized grid that’s connected power generation structure with utility at the core now is being questioned by the fast deployment of distributed energy resources from smart, renewable grid technologies, market changes, smart customer service and distribution and regulatory frameworks as well as more engaged customers and competitors.
Significant changes would come through distributed generation, energy storage technological advances, energy efficiency enhancements, electric vehicles, micro-grids and intelligent management of home energy. The next few years would be very important for utilities to reinvent themselves.
SOME TECNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS AND INNOVATIONS IN THE ENERGY AND UTILITY INDUSTRY
- Web 2.0 and Social Media. Utility IT leaders have opportunities to use social media. This is for the acquisition and retention of customers. Consumer engagement channel drives customer application in energy efficiency programs. Furthermore, social media is also growing in relevance. Opportunities to use social media to boost internal utility business processes are emerging.
- Mobile and Location-Aware technology. Boosting accuracy and effectiveness and lowering costs of the field force are the major drivers for utilities to deploy wireless and mobile technologies. Mobile and location-aware technology spans hardware like smart phones and laptops, communication products including GPS and navigation and service such as general packet radio service, WiFi.
- Big Data. Development of smart grid would increase the quantity of data by several levels of magnitude, driven by several edge devices as well as new OT and IT applications, like an AMI or advanced metering infrastructure, smart applications, advanced distribution management, micro-grids, remote asset monitoring and self-healing networks. Aside from considerably impacting the volume of data, smart grid initiatives also produce various data, like spatial, temporal, streaming, transactional, structured and unstructured.
- Sensor Technology. Sensors are extensively applied via the entire supply, distribution domains and transmission of utilities. Sensor fusion, the addition of onboard digital signal processing and associated development of software capabilities is accelerating potential apps. Widespread adoption of utility is challenged by specific implementation requirements, like electromagnetic shielding, temperature extremes, remote access and cyber security.
- Cloud computing and SaaS. Even though the energy and utility industry trails other fields when it comes to adoption of cloud because of security and reliability issues, solutions are starting to emerge in areas like big data analytics, smart meter, GIS and demand response coordination. Utility cloud early implementers and SaaS include companies that are interested in providing a common app and data services to several utility entities with less impact on production systems.
- Advanced metering infrastructure. AMI consists of a cornerstone of the smart grid via potentially giving a communication backbone for low-latency data that is aimed at boosting distribution asset utilization failure detection as well as facilitating consumer inclusion in markets. Various market structures, benefit expectations and regulatory drivers build different ownership models for the AMI technology components stack that favor various technology solutions all over the world.
- Convergence of IT and OT. All new technology projects in utilities virtually need a combination of IT and OT investment and planning, like advanced distribution management systems or AMI. More than any field, the energy and utility sector faces the challenge of the separation between management of IT and OT, along with the relevance of hybrid projects which link IT and OT systems. The industry would benefit through aligning their OT support, procedures and standards with those used for IT, minimizing the time to develop governance over OT. This ensures that when IT and OT integration is done, there would already be some alignment in standards.
- In-Memory Computing. Increasing IMC or in-memory computing app infrastructure technologies usage would result in fast IMC adoption by mainstream IT organizations. The ability to support high-throughput, high-scale and low-latency use cases would make it possible for IT firms to implement innovative situations, like those that address the processing of smart-grid generated metering and also real-time sensor data.
- Predictive Analysis. This has been used generally to describe any approach to data mining with four attributes. These attributes include prediction emphasis, fast time to insight, emphasis on business relevance of the resulting insights and a growing emphasis on usage ease. Common applications comprehend the future failure patterns of equipment. By understanding probably future scenarios, energy and utility firms are better able to allocate investments in order to maximize returns.
- Communication technology. The utility assets’ distributed nature, along with the need for more efficient management of asset and labor use, makes mobility and supporting communication technologies high priority for utilities investment. The smart grid aim towards better distribution network observability needs machine-to-machine monitoring systems which are similar in function to low bandwidth SCADA.