Big data technology boosting grid performance
The United States technology market has been growing at a steady rate over the past few years, despite two economic setbacks in 2008 and 2011. Among the plethora of innovations and mechanisms, cloud computing has been at the forefront of progress, spawning offshoots and residual industries in its wake. Despite what some would think, the electric grid has grown more reliant on IT products due to the Obama administration's mission to foster sustainability.
The changing utility responsibilities
Since the inception of the Internet, power companies have been using smart grid technology to better manage the distribution and flow of energy. In an effort to reduce labor costs and energy wastes, the majority of utilities deploy intelligent electronic devices capable of trigging actions in substations and transformers based on the information they receive from grid assets. Essentially, these mechanisms are harnessing big data to determine where electricity demand is needed.
Further advancements are just around the corner. According to Greentech Media, data is more affordable to store in large quantities and is much easier to collect, primarily due in part to the prevalence of cloud servers. Going beyond mechanism deployments, energy providers are now amassing digital information collected by IEDs and substations in an effort to determine how the grid can improve as a whole.
Acting upon information
However, many of these organizations are unsure of where they should start. Utilities are often left wondering how they should organize massive influxes of data. If it's left to sit in cloud storage without the proper analysis, then amassing the information in the first place is essentially useless.
Intelligent Utility recommended that power companies separate the raw data obtained from different assets, refine it, and then assemble the finished products onto a managed platform so executives can provide human insight into how the grid as a whole could be made more efficient.
"This will help to reduce the loading of any damaged asset, reducing the outages, reduction in maintenance cost and much more," the source said.
Data analytics tools have witnessed increased usage due to greater implementation of renewable resources. As opposed to a coal-fired power plant, which produces a consistent flow of power, the output of solar panels and wind power is dependent on a variable environment. In other words, an exceptionally sunny climate will pump more electricity in the grid than a cloudy day. The data collected from these distributed energy resources will provide utilities with consistent electricity output reports, helping them deduce how green technologies could best be implemented.
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