Utilities Brace For Smart Grid Data ‘Tsunami’

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Power companies need to look at more powerful data analytics tools to avoid drowning in smart meter data

Utilities companies are preparing for a “data tsunami” with the rollout of smart power grids, creating a market for smart grid data anlytics that could bring in $11.3 billion (£7bn) in revenue over the next five years, according to Pike Research.

Smart grids are designed to deliver granular, real-time data to utilities companies, but turning that data into usable information will be no simple matter, according to Pike.

Millions of meters

“As utilities move to the smart grid and expand it over time with the installation of thousands and sometimes millions of smart meters, they must address the most challenging question: How will they be able to manage and take advantage of the surge of data resulting from these smart meters and other intelligent devices on the smart grid?” Pike senior analyst Marianne Hedin said in a statement.

The data could be used, for example, to improve the efficiency of power generation, transmission and distribution systems, Pike said.

Utilities need to be able to review the data for changes or events in the grid that could trigger alarms for outage management, load balancing or demand response, according to Hedin.

What’s needed are situational awareness systems that apply business rules to incoming data, adjusting the parameters of grid operations in real time, Pike said. Predictive analytics are also becoming increasingly important, according to the “Smart Grid Data Analytics” report.

Analytics suppliers

Established IT companies could be the ones to reap the benefits from smart grid data analytics, and companies such as Accenture, Capgemini, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAIC, SAP and Siemens are already producing such systems.

Start-ups such as OPOWER, OSIsoft, Telvent, Ecologic Analytics and eMeter are also getting into the game.

Smart grids are gearing up in the UK including a major trial in the North-East.

Challenges include health concerns over the radios used in the grids and worries about the security of the IT systems on which the grids are based.

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