Smart Grids and Industrial IoT

Thanks to IoT nodes, power grids acquire the flexibility to face a more electrified future. Smart grids provide insight into consumption and demand and enable the adoption of predictive maintenance strategies.

Smart Grid

The electricity industry is undergoing one of the greatest transformations in its business model, linked to three phenomena: the decentralization of electricity generation, the emergence of the prosumer, a figure that generates and consumes energy, and the growing incorporation of renewable sources.

This transformation of the energy model is intrinsically linked to a process of digitalization of the sector. New digital technologies together with advances in communications are enabling the interconnection between systems and equipment in the field, for a more efficient supply and management of electricity. This is what we know as Smart Grids or smart electricity grids.

The digitization of power grids will enable the necessary smart management not only of the grid itself, but also of demand. Smart grids provide insight into consumption and demand and allow the adoption of predictive maintenance strategies.

The transformation of the grids towards a secure and reliable smart infrastructure will make it possible to meet the challenges of a complete electrification of the economy, the integration of renewable sources, sustainable mobility, decentralized consumption (self-consumption) and a consumer with greater decision-making capacity and connectivity.

The application of digital technologies such as the IoT, Big Data, Cloud Computing and Edge Computing have enabled the electricity sector to improve communications in both directions (consumer / distribution company) and has allowed, above all, to be able to predict both consumption and production capacity of the different energy sources.

Artificial Intelligence and Smart Grids

Cloud computing adoption by utilities has gone from 45% 3 years ago to over 70% today, according to Smart Energy International magazine. This technology has become essential in energy companies, which have come to the cloud from enterprise applications for the management of business resources. There is more and more data related to energy consumption thanks to smart meters and data from IoT devices.

In addition, we are facing the unstoppable phenomenon of photovoltaic self-consumption and Energy Communities. It is estimated that the self-production of energy from energy communities would cover almost 100% of the demand of the domestic and tertiary sectors, and 60% of the demand in Spain, according to the report 'Community energy: the potential of energy communities in the Spanish State', published by the association Amigos de la Tierra (Friends of the Earth).

To satisfy this new energy consumer and generator, aprofound restructuring is required on thepart of companies in the electricity sector, from their billing structures to the implementation of new value-added services. This is where Cloud technologies come into play, as they make it possible to predict and provide greater control and speed in adapting to customer needs.

We can also see that on the Electrical Distribution side, Artificial Intelligence has a Artificial Intelligence has a lot of room. Now it is possible to analyze how the grid behaves at a new supply point. The digitization of the grid involves new technologies such as AI, which are more advanced processing capabilities, and if you take it down to the field, we are talking about new programming languages, new ways of making algorithms and deploying those algorithms offered by digital native companies.


Edge Computing

We also see that Edge Computing is also reaching the electricity sector. The ability to make decisions almost in real time offers great advantages when it comes to being more efficient and, above all, to making the grid more resilient. The electricity sector is a sector that tends to oversize and we are seeing in other European countries that the retribution does not come from oversizing, but from being more efficient.

You may be interested in reading: Edge Computing applied to the electricity industry

The transition to Smart Grids and their relationship with the IoT

For its part, IoT has positioned itself as the key technology for the transition from electric grids to smart grids.

As the smart grid has evolved, IoT has positioned itself as one of the enabling technologies as it has allowed each device to have a unique IP address that can upload its status and download control commands over the Internet.

All this has offered great benefits to the electricity industry, among which we could highlight the more efficient management and transmission of electricity as well as the faster and more efficient restoration in case of service interruption. In this way, electric utilities provide a better service to the end consumer, reducing costs and consequently reducing expenses for the end customer.

The energy transition and the important incursion of more efficient and cheaper renewable energy sources, brings with it a series of challenges for companies in the energy sector that cannot be overlooked. These include the need to :

  • Optimize networks and infrastructures, to create a more resilient network while maximizing availability
  • Integration of different storage devices, promoting efficiency and merging multiple sources of electricity generation: renewable, distributed, conventional, micro-grids...
  • Incorporate digital technologies such as AI and IoT to predict and optimize energy management and delivery to different traffic networks.

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