4 drivers of energy disruption, according to IBM’s Laurence Carpanini

Grid companies – shifting focus from network operation to data and analytics?
Published: Mon 15 Jan 2018

‘Disruption’ is the buzzword of the moment in the energy sector with the pace and scale of new and emerging technologies that can support the digitalisation of the grid.

Laurence Carpanini, Director of Smarter Energy Solutions at IBM, says the company views four disruptions as the drivers of transformation currently.

1. Renewables are growing

The low cost of solar photovoltaics, new wind generation and the extension of storage is driving all transformation.

The distribution companies need to integrate these technologies at their level in the market and they need to be integrated back to the transmission operators at national level.



2. Consumer technologies are taking off

Smartphones and home control and using these to connect with smart meters and drive energy efficiency require deeper levels of data understanding.

“The big change is that energy companies are now having to deal with consumers as individuals, rather than as an aggregated group.”



IBM's Laurence Carpanini discusses disruptive technologies in the electricity sector, including blockchain and real-time analytics.

3. Artificial intelligence moves real-time

Cognitive solutions and artificial intelligence are generating large amounts of data and require massive platforms to manage this and make it available to other parties.

Increasingly this data access is required on a real-time basis.

4. Big data improves understanding

More and more data is being generated by, e.g. sensors on the grid and integrated with data from external sources such as weather forecasting to predict and understand energy production and what is happening on the grid.

“It’s the companies that understand the technologies that fit around digitisation that will survive in the future,” says Carpanini.

And their challenge is to develop the capabilities to do that – to keep on top of each new technology as it emerges.

“In the past grid companies have relied on engineers who understand the system and have been able to sit and analyse and work things out. Now with the faster pace, the need is to optimise in near real time, which means having a real understanding of the data.”

In short, what this amounts to for these companies is a shift away from a focus on operating networks to one on data and analytics.

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