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10 tech trends that will drive energy companies

Last updated on: April 22, 2013 08:40 IST

10 tech trends that will drive energy companies

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Energy companies were once conservative and slow moving. The sector was defined by jargons such as 'transmission', 'distribution', and 'grid'.

This is changing and the transformation is happening fast thanks to newer technologies making in-roads.

Experts in the sector will soon be talking about social media, location-aware technology, cloud computing and so on, instead of the usual jargons.

The research and advisory firm Gartner picks top 10 technology trends that would soon be a significant part of energy and utility sector.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Power Grid Corporation
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Social Media and Web 2.0

Companies can use this technology to acquire customers and retain them. This can also be used to drive customer participation in energy efficiency programmes. Social media for outage communications is also rising in importance.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Big Data

The world is moving towards smart grids. These initiatives will witness stupendous growth in data driven by a host of edge devices and applications such as advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), synchrophasors, smart appliances, microgrids, advanced distribution management, remote asset monitoring, event avoidance and self-healing networks.

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Image: Engineers monitor a state power grid in the US.
Photographs: Julia Robinson/Reuters
Tags: AMI

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Mobile and Location-Aware Technology

This technology will help in lowering costs and improving the accuracy and effectiveness of the field force.

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Image: A scientist holds up a GPS device.
Photographs: Edward Echwalu/Reuters
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Cloud Computing and SaaS

Although utility and energy companies have not adopted this technology due to security and reliability concerns; some have started using it in big data analytics, demand response coordination, and geographic information system.

Some of the organisations using this technology include smaller municipal and cooperatives which do not have extensive infrastructure/budgets and investor-owned utilities.

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Image: A visitor uses his mobile phone as he walks past the Microsoft booth with a logo for cloud computing software application.
Photographs: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters
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Sensor Technology

Sensors are applied extensively throughout the entire supply, transmission and distribution domains of utilities.

Sensor fusion - the addition of onboard digital signal processing and associated software development capabilities - is accelerating potential applications.

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Image: Employees inspect the equipment at an electric power transformation.
Photographs: Reuters
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In-Memory Computing

The ability of IMC to support high-scale, high-throughput and low-latency use cases will make it possible for IT organisations to implement innovative scenarios, such as those addressing processing of the smart-grid-generated metering and real-time sensor data.

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Photographs: Reuters
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IT and OT Convergence

Virtually all new technology projects in utilities will require a combination of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) investment and planning.

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Advanced Metering Infrastructure

AMI constitutes a cornerstone of the smart grid by potentially providing a communication backbone for low-latency data.

It helps to improve distribution asset utilisation failure detection, and facilitate consumer inclusion in energy markets.

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Image: Electric power transmission lines are seen in Hamburg, Germany
Photographs: Morris Mac Matze/Reuters

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Communication Technology

The distributed nature of utility assets, combined with the need for more efficient asset management and labour use, makes mobility and supporting communication technologies high investment priority areas for utilities.

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Predictive Analytics

Common applications of Predictive Analytics include understanding the future failure patterns of equipment, or the likely load from certain customer groups or regions.

By understanding likely future circumstances, organisations are better able to allocate investments to maximise returns.


Image: An executive monitors power use on the big screen.
Photographs: Julia Robinson /Reuters
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