Utilities industry bets on smart grid data analytics

by Sohini Bagchi    Jan 21, 2013

smart electricity

The global utility and energy industry is betting on smart grid deployment and is planning to invest significantly on smart grid data analytics and other areas of IT in the coming years. The industry’s revenue in the IT segment had grown by 23 percent, to $9.4 billion, in 2012, up from $7.7 billion in 2011, according to Pike Research.

The research revealed that even though utilities is in its early stages of transformation, the segment is gearing up for the next level of growth. Energy and utility companies are planning, implementing and evaluating smart grid technologies and associated enterprise processes to modernize their operational and information systems. As a result they will invest more on technologies that provides data analyses for smart grid, such as smart meters, advanced meter infrastructure, and distribution automation to better understand their customers and serve them better.

Utility companies are seeing much benefit in smart grid analytics deployment. Researchers point out that smart grids have the ability to manage new renewable energy sources, better interconnections between power networks, as well as greater visibility and control over energy usage at the consumer level. “Investment in smart grid technologies is used address transmission losses, load management issues, and malfunction of distribution and transmission substations. The smart grid system helps in automating the demand management system, reduce energy usage during peak hours, and improve fault detection processes,” says Surupa Mahto, Analyst - Energy & Sustainability Technology at Ovum.

Mahto believes that these functions result in a data deluge that must be analyzed and acted upon. The volume of data is expected to grow manifold over time. Utilities should solve data collection and storage challenges and learn how to analyze and act on new forms of information to realize the ROI on their smart grid investments.

The Pike research notes that the worldwide market for smart grid data analytics is expected to grow steadily through 2020, with cumulative worldwide spending from 2012 through 2020 totaling just over $34 billion. The bulk of this spending will occur in Asia Pacific, where the annual IT spending will continue to rise and is expected to surpass $2.5 billion by 2020

The software and IT services that are likely to be deployed by utility includes, grid communications networks, grid input and output software and services, meter data management and advanced data analytics. Besides, many companies will invest in alternative energy like wind and solar and other forms of energy efficiency technologies and power systems, the report observes.

According to technology evangelist and professor in Electrical Engineering at IIT Chennai, Ashok Jhunjhunwala, in the emerging countries, the government as well as industries is looking at renewable and alternative energy. Many are testing new business models, such as solar panels on customer rooftops and electric vehicle charging stations in public garages. These technologies will pay off in the long run, generating a bright future for the industry.

Jhunjhunwala believes that the utility industry will continue to look at technological advancements and innovative business models in the coming months.