Invest in the right technologies to support your smart grid roadmap

Regis Vautrin, Schneider Electric’s Utility Advanced Solutions Business Development Director discusses grid management challenges and solutions.
Published: Tue 03 May 2016

Today, energy and utility companies are faced with a highly competitive market in which they find themselves having to reduce their costs and create new revenue streams, all the while providing a reliable and safe service to end-customers.

Helping utilities plan ahead

Network downtime is measured by SAIDI and SAIFI indicators, the key drivers that determine the performance of utilities. In many cases, they are used by regulators to set electricity tariffs.

Utilities are adopting multiple strategies to reduce downtime. They can use wide-area central systems such as the distribution management system and some feeder automation devices to supervise and reconfigure networks to avoid overloads.

Self-healing systems can be installed into medium voltage network loops to ensure fast and local isolation in case of faults and rapid reconfiguration of the network in case of an outage.

Predictive asset analytics software can provide early warning notifications and diagnostics of equipment problems—days, weeks or months before failure—to avoid unscheduled downtime and improve asset availability.

Thanks to a comprehensive enterprise asset performance management (APM) solution, Schneider Electric improves the competitiveness of utilities by providing solutions to optimize asset operation while reducing the cost of asset maintenance. Maintenance costs are lowered by switching from a reactive maintenance approach to a planned and proactive approach through a predictive and risk-based maintenance strategy.

Smarter and flexible grids are the solution

The flexibility of smart grids and rapid growth of renewable energies, which are often connected to distribution networks, are already changing the way grids are managed. Now, utilities can use IT/OT technologies to leverage data to better manage flexible demand to mitigate variable generation.

Grid efficiency provides the foundation to solve many of the challenges faced by utilities today. Smart grids come in many forms including advanced sensing equipment, automatic switching, extended monitoring and control, and broader communications.

It is important that utilities invest wisely in specific technologies that provide the greatest benefits to their specific challenges in order to achieve optimal business outcomes.  

For instance, Schneider Electric offers several solutions to reduce peak loads. One approach is a combination of using a distribution management system with feeder automation to leverage voltage profiles. Equally, demand side management solutions can be deployed to shift industrial or household loads to a period of lower demand.

The evolution of energy and utility markets

Utilities are facing an increasing technical challenge with renewable integration and more and more challenges to their business model sustainability. As a consequence, they will look to maximize the output of their assets thanks to distribution management systems, renewable control centre solutions and smart metering infrastructures.

Utilities also aim to mitigate their maintenance costs thanks to enterprise asset performance management, including predictive maintenance.

Schneider Electric has been successfully implementing innovative solutions with leading utilities globally. In addition to offering leading software recognized by leading utilities and industry consultants like Gartner, the company offers a comprehensive and fully integrated suite of software products and solutions to best support the overall smart grid roadmap of its utility customers.

Further reading

Schneider Electric-Empowering Smart Utilities