According to the U.S. Department of Energy, distribution intelligence refers to the part of the smart grid that addresses utility distribution systems – meaning the wires, switches and transformers connecting the utility substation to both the utility company and the end customer. These systems are designed to drastically improve the demand response times and overall efficiency of transferring electric power, thus enabling a fully controllable and flexible distribution system and giving field technicians the actionable knowledge to troubleshoot problem areas faster. As utility providers continue to move towards a digital and connected enterprise, the prospect of a self-healing power distribution system becomes extremely valuable – especially as electric power consumption continues to rise globally. That’s way this week’s round up is dedicated to distributing intelligence across one of the most mission-critical infrastructures on the planet – the power grid.
State of Distribution Intelligence, per a Recent Smart Grid Report
A smart grid survey of 70 U.S electric cooperatives found that, regardless of the challenges most have found a way to start incorporating smart grid technology across the board. Zpryme and the Rural Smart Grid Summit (RSGS) report that, “Nearly all electric cooperatives have some sort of smart grid effort. Many are at thestage of deploying multiple applications (31%) up from 21% last year. Pilot projects are also growing from 8% last year to 16% this year.”
We Now Have Hourly Data on the US Power Distribution System
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (US EIA) can now collect data on electric supply, demand and flows on an hourly basis. CleanTechnica informs us that, “EIA’s U.S. Electric System Operating Data tool provides nearly real-time demand data, plus analysis and visualizations of hourly, daily, and weekly electricity supply and demand on a national and regional level for all of the 66 electric system balancing authorities that make up the U.S. electric grid.”
Distribution Intelligence Starts with Proper Training
India’s National Smart Grid Mission (NSGM) with USAID announced they will begin a series of utility personnel training programs designed to help educate workers on smart grid functionality and design. The Business Standard revealed, “The government has taken several proactive steps towards grid modernization, including the establishment of a Smart Grid Mission to plan and monitor the implementation of policies and programs related to Smart Grid activities in India.”
Cyber Attack Vulnerability in the Power Grid?
We have all heard about a few of the big cyber attacks that have affected some big companies, but many don’t realize an attack on the electrical infrastructure could be crippling to our society. The Energy Collective unveiled a quiz to dispel some myths about the state of cybersecurity in the power grid. “Minimizing the risk is not just about training a network IT team. It’s about running a comprehensive and continuous scan of operational technology (OT)—the programmable logic controllers, the mobile devices, the supervisory control and data acquisition systems (SCADA), etc.—and then coordinating OT and IT teams with risk officers and crisis management experts to form a cohesive front capable of responding to an industrial cyber incident.” Perhaps the notion of distribution intelligence systems can help address and alleviate some of these concerns.
Most utilities are only starting on the road to true distribution intelligence, but the market is expected to boom in the coming years. With the advent of industrial IoT technologies and new regulatory factors, we could realize distribution intelligence in our power grid sooner than later.
I hope you have enjoyed our weekly round up on distribution intelligence, and please be sure to leave your comments and questions below.
The round up above is all about the smart grid and how to make it more efficient and resilient. Ever hear of a smart city? Smart cities are connected cities, and they work in conjunction with everything from IoT sensors to open data collection and smart streetlights to provide better services and better communication. Teena Maddox from Tech Republic wrote a great round up piece on six essential technologies that make the smart city of the future a reality today. Give it a read!