Challenges and solutions for smart grid – addressing the value of solutions for operational reliability

Reliable electricity supply is essential for the modern interconnected society. The digitalization is quickly changing the energy landscape. The electricity grids are becoming “smart” and this transition will introduce a variety of novel technologies that could help the network operators in their efforts to improve the operational reliability of the electric power system. However, the real impact and the value of such solutions to the network asset owners, operators, contractors and maintenance service providers is anything else but easy to calculate.

Operational reliability pilot aims at ensuring reliable operation of smart electricity networks by enhancing lifecycle management with novel technologies (Figure 1).

The value of novel technological solutions and the value of collected data depends on their use and exploitation context. Emerging technologies include for instance Internet of Things (IoT) solutions and sensors, augmented/virtual reality and support for remote presence, 3D models and digital twins, and machine learning based solutions for data analysis and forecasting. Such emerging technologies could offer tools for more efficient operational and maintenance practices, and thus improve operational reliability.

The solution creates value if the arising benefits exceed the costs of implementation. When modelling costs and benefits we also have to take into account the duration of the lifecycle. The equipment and components applied in transmission and distribution systems typically have long lifetimes. By introducing industrial IoT into these systems, connecting different long-lived systems, and creating new services based on fast-paced technologies, additional challenges in integrating these long-lived systems and innovative IoT solutions will arise.

In a recent study, Frost & Sullivan has found that data valuation in the energy industry is still in its nascent stages, as organizations are still figuring out how best to mine, manage and derive value from the data they create. Smart grid aspects such as local flexibility, connectivity and enabling technologies are in the focus of the Smart Otaniemi innovation ecosystem. Smart Otaniemi offers a breeding ground and opportunities for co-creation that is necessary for identifying potential technologies that improve operational reliability, developing business driven use cases, and for applying Life Cycle Cost assessments for feasibility evaluation.

Do you want to hear more on value assessment? We addressed the topic in the recent Smart Otaniemi webinar: Novel technologies for improved operational reliability (7.11.2019). The recording of the webinar is available here.