Big Data in the Utility World: Future Trends 0

As the California Independent System Operator asks for voluntary cooperation in reducing energy use as it climbs toward peak usage, Greentech Media opened up its conference, The Soft Grid 2012, in San Francisco to discuss how big data is coming to the utility world and what it means for grid reliability and customer service.

Imagine a future where the ISO or individual utility doesn’t have to issue a blanket call for action to conserve power. Instead, integrated systems could dynamically manage the flow and use of power to cut where needed, without customers ever noticing. That’s the promise of big data analytics in the world of electrical power, but it’s not here yet.

In most utilities, information technology and operational technology are still siloed. But that’s about to change. To prepare, or adapt, to the onslaught of data coming off everything from smart meters to synchrophasors to smart transformers, utilities are looking for ways to collect and crunch the data in meaningful ways.

For most utilities, it’s scary stuff. The push into analytical platforms that can provide value from the data is coming faster than many utilities are ready for. During the Tuesday opening keynote at The Soft Grid, David Leeds, chief smart grid analyst for GTM Research, offered ten predictions and trends for what we’ll see in the software and smart grid market in coming years.

1.    Most companies that will lead the utility analytics transformation are not in this market today. In fact, if you look around, many of the most cutting-edge companies that are capitalizing on object-oriented database technology, such as Versant, are just starting to look at the utility space. Other companies that are active in data-heavy, security-minded industries, like the financial sector, will also make a play in the utility sector.

2.     Meter data management is just the beginning, and distributed generation, electric vehicles and networked grid assets are coming up next. Unlike meters, which only need to send data a few times a day at most, grid assets will talk in real-time to grid operators, or talk amongst themselves. This will mean not only the need the collect and analyze the data, but the networks to move it all through without latency issues for critical assets.

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