INTERNET OF THINGS
The electric utility industry is no stranger to the Internet of Things
(Io T) and is, in fact, already solidly invested in it. The smart grid is
made possible by the application of Io T technology such as two-way communications, smart sensors and data analytics to the grid
infrastructure to improve reliability, increase efficiency, integrate
more renewable energy and distributed energy resources (DER),
and better engage and empower utility customers.
Utilities are now beginning to more thoroughly analyze smart
device data to drive smarter decision-making, reduce costs and
enable new services. More specifically, utilities are increasingly beginning to operationalize the sensor data being gathered to enable
more efficient and proactive utility efforts, both in core reliability efforts and in the utility’s approach to edge-of-grid and other
emerging new services.
IOT, DER AND THE CLOUD
Decreasing technology costs and supportive government policies
have played integral roles in the increased DER adoption by both
residential and business utility customers. This includes adoption
of rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV), wind turbines, electric vehicles
(EVs), energy storage, energy management systems and whole-house diesel generators. While these resources are increasingly
being viewed as helpful extensions to the current electric distribution grid, they also can negatively affect grid reliability and performance unless they are skillfully managed by utility operators.
The Io T, in particular, plays a vital role in all of this. As DERs are
integrated into the electricity distribution grid, communication
channels are needed to allow numerous different systems and devices to send commands based upon customer choices. At times,
it will be necessary for the utility to communicate beyond the customer’s smart meter directly into the customer-side DER to ensure these choices are successfully executed. The Io T network will
allow data and commands to flow among DER, utility operational
systems and equipment, such as sensors and load control devices,
to maintain reliability and meet peak electricity demand.
To do all of this in real- or near real-time, the marriage of
automation and cloud-based analytics with Io T is imperative
for the modern utility dealing with DER integration.
There are many ways in which utilities can leverage Io T and related
IoT, Automation and Cloud Analytics Key for Utilities and DER
Brian Bradford is vice president of asset solutions for the Utilities Global Business Unit of Oracle Corp.
He is responsible for the profit and loss of utility operational software applications and delivery. He has
more than 20 years experience in the utility space and joined Oracle from GE where he was general
manager of hosted software and analytic solutions. Brian has an MBA from Harvard Business School and
an undergraduate degree in finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
technologies to successfully
manage the challenges associated with incorporating
customer-owned DER into
the electric grid. There are
three areas of key importance
to electric utilities working to
effectively integrate DER and
grid-side resources: 1) minimizing asset risk; 2) increasing
customer choice; and 3) alleviating utility constraint.
MINIMIZING ASSET RISK
Utilities often run into challenges when integrating DER,
as intermittency in distributed renewable generation and
variations in consumption
patterns create variabilities in
energy supply. In addition, the
intermittency of supply creates
real risks to grid health and reliability, and can place additional strain on traditional distribution grid assets.
It’s difficult for utilities to
predict and accurately forecast
granular intermittent renewable generation, its aggregat-ed impact on grid connection
points, and overall energy
supply. In addition, because solar energy and wind are not
dispatchable, utility operators
can’t choose when to use the
electricity generated by these
resources. Instead, they must
take the electricity when it’s