Why the energy industry should go digital
As the technology and energy industries continue to evolve, we are seeing more governments take steps to ensure energy conservation, emission reduction in generation, greater energy efficiency, energy quality, and transparency in energy distribution and consumption. This includes drastic changes to policies related to energy generation, transmission, distribution and supply. Power and energy companies now have to adapt to these new regulatory guidelines, and begin embracing new technologies to create more environmentally friendly products and strategies for customers.
With advances in smart field devices and networking technologies and the reduced cost of smart devices, there is tremendous market potential for substations and distribution automation that can be realized exclusively with software.
But power companies are still facing challenges. With the evolution of alternative sources of energy generation, like renewable energies, power companies will increasingly have to start adopting renewable energy-based power generation. This implies moving away from the traditional approach of centralized bulk power generations to distributed power generations in which customer-side power generation using solar/wind and selling back the excess to power companies. With the advent of these two challenges, it becomes more difficult for power companies to retain control over the energy source.
One solution that can help power companies overcome these challenges is the software-defined smart grid. Modeling itself after the software-defined network, the software-defined smart grid is a collection of smart hardware, software, and network communications that are all able to integrate together – making the energy grid “smarter”. Following the introduction of smart devices in transmission and of distribution electrical networks, the software-defined smart grid can support the automation of measuring, recording, and monitoring of energy transmission and usage. The software-defined smart grid can also automatically control multiple smart field devices in transmission and distribution for remote operational activities.
This allows for better management of peak load, outages, fault detection, protection and restoration. Smart grids improve power efficiency and a utility’s ability to meet consumer demand. This also enables consumers to control their energy consumption and reduce their energy bills, by integrating renewable energy with the smart grid.