Digitalization brings us closer to the end-user – knowing your grid edge and how to respond makes it that smarter grid for all to benefit in response and greater relationships between users and providers.
The closer in proximity to end-use (homes, business, vehicles) is the grid edge as the hardware (things we can touch and see) such as solar panels, meters, energy storage systems, thermostats, appliances, and building controls. These “things” are being designed to connect and combined with grid edge software that triggers demand and optimization.
We are achieving through software the ability for greater data analytics or planning information that allows for a new form of aggregation. This gives us all a greater engagement in managing our energy consumption and begin to sell surplus electricity through the management of their own personal energy system.
What we do need to undertake as basic initial steps were nicely outlined recently in a Siemens Middle East Energy Week conference, a month or so back, by Beatrix Natter, the Executive Vice President, Transmissions at Siemens.
Beatrix Natter outlined very succinctly some of the opening steps before we can see any platform for the Internet of Energy or achieve some investment value from any digitalization investment
Firstly we have to digitalize the product, each point that can provide valuable data so as to enable them to produce real-time data. This is her physical to digital step currently being undertaken, this gives the first chance to understand the operating conditions of the machine or connecting point. This delivers improved asset management.
Then the second step is to build the same digital capability into substations to understand the edge of grids. This gives options to manage power and continuity within the system
Thirdly to make connections beyond two points to begin to turn this into a dynamic data system. It is then the automation of energy flows and intelligence becomes the value of these (essential) investments from the digital investments required.
In the future, there becomes the opportunity to build a physical and digital twin that mirrors and takes all the connection points into optionality and scenario planning to plan the existing system and build-out for reducing gaps and variance in the future one.
Having a robust digital approach to energy, to build out connectivity and learn from the data generated changes our thinking. We are entering a era of greater productivity, efficiency and effectiveness by knowing what we have in real time, allows us to manage the moment and beginning to understand the future and the investments by this “knowing your energy landscape” and recognizing the possible gaps.