Week in smart metering - Augmented reality for utilities

Augmented reality presents interesting opportunities in the utility sector, writes Claire Volkwyn, editor, Metering & Smart Energy International.
Published: Wed 27 Jul 2016

Our local news has been covering the Pokémon Go craze this last week as the augmented reality (AR) game gains followers globally. International entertainment star Rihanna has banned Pokémon from her concerts after Pokémon were captured at Adele and Beyoncé concerts this week.

The opportunity for AR in the utility sector presents some interesting opportunities and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) in the US is investigating potential AR applications for power companies, with a view to determining how AR can improve efficiency and/or safety.  According to Forbes, "AR could assist utility workers out in the field working on this equipment without having to pull out paper manuals or laptops. If a worker could have a pair of AR glasses, all that information for repairing could be laid out right in front of their eyes.”

Working with big name utilities include Duke, Consolidate Edison, EDF Energy in the UK and the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), EPRI will be trialling smart glasses; a device that recognises hand gestures, allowing users to navigate through menus by waving their hands; and a helmet with a visor for projecting information.

Says John Simmins, technical executive at EPRI: "We’re doing research to provide electricity to the public in a safe, reliable and efficient way; in the same way, it’s crucial to assure a higher productivity and less risks for engineers of the companies in the energy field. 

"There’s an enormous potential in the numerous applications of augmented reality, that allow us to develop safe and efficient work flows in order to maintain a reliable, safe and efficient electric system that respects the environment.”

What role do you see AR playing in your utility business? We’d love to hear from you!

More from Metering & Smart Energy International

Korea Power Corporation (KEPCO) announced that it will deploy its smart grid technology nationwide following its successful trial. According to a local publication, the power utility will deploy the solution throughout South Korea by 2018 to help consumers to reduce their power usage and bills. [KEPCO plans nationwide rollout of smart grid tech]. KEPCO claims its smart grid solution will also help federal and local governments to reduce greenhouse gases and improve their local economies. The utility developed and tested the technology as from December 2009 through to May 2013.

Florida Power and Light has begun installing smart grid switches to fix electricity outage problems automatically that would traditionally have to be repaired manually. According to the Florida Power and Light (FPL), the smart grid device - an automated lateral switch is making aggravating power outages, such as those caused by a fallen tree branch on a neighbourhood line, less likely throughout its 35-county service area. [FPL installs smart grid switches to address outages]. It adds that while crews will still have to respond to major outages caused by lightning strikes, deploying the smart switches on neighbourhood lines can fix more common outages and quickly restore service.

US power utility Seattle City Light announced its plan to increase the number of EV charging stations to pave way for increased adoption of electric vehicles in Seattle. According to a local publication, the power utility will install hundreds of charging stations in Seattle homes to allow EV users to charge their vehicles at home. The development is expected to reduce pressure on the city's existing public EV charging stations. [Seattle City Light increases EV charging infrastructure]. The project will also include the installation of 20 fast charging stations in the city business district to increase the number of public stations.

A new report states that the rapid adoption of residential solar PV systems and net energy metering are potential long-term threats to investor-owned business models. This is based upon findings from International ratings agency, Fitch Ratings, which takes into account the installation of solar PV between 2005 and 2015 in the US. [Solar PV a threat to IOU utility business models – report]. In 2015 alone, the sector recorded a 55% annual increase in installations. The increase in the deployment of solar PV is a result of a decline in cost and tax subsidies.

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