Here’s our list with the 7 most relevant upcoming technological innovations on Energy Distribution:
Inclusion of distribution automation
With the inclusion of distribution automation, companies will be able to make real-time adjustments to changing loads, generation and failure conditions of the distribution system without operator intervention. The system will support local power grids and ease the load across long-distance transmission lines.
Energy storage systems allows efficient functioning of electrical system, which helps in improving efficiency, reducing electricity cost and less emissions. Also in the event of power outages, batteries/storage systems present itself as a reliable alternative to power generation.
Advancement in energy storage systems will further improve the efficiency of electrical systems. Also it will play a critical role in the expansion of renewable energy systems.
Companies across the globe are conducting R&D to develop more advanced energy storage systems to further increase efficiency and reduce cost. Most developments are taking place in the lithium family of batteries such as lithium-air, lithium-sodium, lithium-metal, and solid-state lithium-ion technologies. However, significant effort is also made in identifying new material.
Provision of AI services to customers
Utility companies are facing an increasing demand from customers to provide artificial intelligence (AI) services in order to simplify and enhance interaction with customers. Companies currently engage with customers via channels such as phone, text, and email. However, opting in for AI services will increase customer flexibility with consumers gaining access to platforms including in-home display systems and web portals. The growth of smart homes (i.e. homes powered by IoT devices), will result in the development and integration of new smart home devices and technologies which utilities will include in business models – allowing consumers to access information such as power restoration times, how much energy an appliance is using or how much money is left on their pre-paid accounts.
The grid is being modernised through use of advanced power management technologies and has increased interconnections and the ability to interact remotely. This has exposed distributors to the threat of cyber attack. In order to combat cyber attacks, these technologies require more intensive cyber security protection.
Companies are working on four key areas to fight cyber threat:
- Strengthening energy sector cyber security preparedness
- Coordinating cyber incident response and recovery
- Accelerating research, development and demonstration of resilient energy delivery systems
- Evaluation of IOT and SCADA upgrades with a ‘security first mind-set
Microgrids and Virtual Power Plants
Business models have historically operated on a top-down approach (i.e. Utility selling to consumers).However, this trend is reversing and a bottom-up model of a bi-directional network dominated by Distributed Power Generation (DPG) and consumers are becoming popular. The implementation of Microgrids (MG) and Virtual Power Plants (VPP) will be the key to integrate DPG into the network effectively.
- MG is an energy system comprising of interconnected loads, distributed energy resources, consumers and an optional storage that acts as a single controllable entity with respect to the grid.
- VPP on the other hand is a modelling concept that aggregates supply, load and distribution capacity within a specific area. DPG is an option where power is generated and transferred.
Software for grid management
Currently, utility companies are challenged with the variability in generation and the demand for electricity. Companies are looking for software to enable the management of the grid to ensure quick responses and optimal grid performance.
Social media automated messaging
This platform enables companies to reduce expenses incurred in operation of call centres and call centre time. Utility providers are trending towards increasing the use of automated social media direct messaging to inform customers about outages and status of bill payments.
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