Energy Applications Platform – Making Smart Grid Make Business Sense

Time may be running out for Distribution System Operators (DSOs) to establish smart grid solutions that will grow with their business. A wave of change is approaching – regulation and legislation, locally generated renewable energy, electric vehicles, increasing need to engage the customer, smart city and smart home. All these, and others which we may not yet fully anticipate, will change the role of the smart grid, from being a passive power distribution infrastructure to an active and agile broker of energy flows.

DSOs, like all businesses, need to justify investment. They achieve their smart grid through incremental investment programmes, each of which makes business sense. The capabilities in smart grid solutions are available today to make these investments technically viable, and often just need the business case as a catalyst to make them happen.

DSOs also need to change the way they think about their smart grid solutions. This infrastructure has the potential to be a lot more than a means to monetise the grid. With the right technology, and modest investment, the smart grid platforms can become the service platform for the whole of the low-voltage grid.

For those DSOs in mature markets, the expanded utilization of smart grid infrastructure is driving the demand to realise extended business benefits in areas of technical and non-technical loss reduction, electricity distribution infrastructure investment reduction and deferral, operational efficiency, accommodation of locally generated renewable energy, regulatory compliance, customer engagement and implementation of smart city/home. This is driving the need for a new suite of monitoring and control capabilities into the smart grid. While the high- and medium- voltage networks have established systems in place to provide this, the low-voltage network does not, and this lack of visibility impacts the level to which these new business benefits can be realised.

Finally, the expectation is that DSOs in emerging markets will seek to achieve the extended business benefits faster than those in the mature markets; they often have stronger business cases for these areas of improvement, and will seek to benefit from the “know-how” which has been developed in the mature markets.

Smart grid solutions which incorporate an Energy Applications Platform will be well placed to realise these business benefits. The Energy Applications Platforms provides a flexible and extensible framework which offers in-built communications technology, multi-function meters, security, remote control, backwards compatibility and analytics. In short, this is how DSOs will obtain the largest return from their investments in smart grid deployments. Put another way, this is how DSOs will change their perspective on the smart grid; from a grid monetisation tool to a service platform for the low-voltage grid.

Larry Colton, Director – Global Business Development and Marketing at NES

To read the full whitepaper on this topic by Larry Colton and Jon Wells, please visit the website.