With Grid Modernization, Utilities Poised For Most Visible Transformation | Black & Veatch

Smart Utilities Report

With Grid Modernization, Utilities Poised For Most Visible Transformation

As generation, transmission and distribution technologies continue to rapidly evolve, Black & Veatch’s 2019 Strategic Directions: Smart Utilities Report finds that utilities are on the cusp of their most visible transformation in more than a century.

The report – expert analyses of a survey of hundreds of utility operators – shows that grid modernization efforts such as deploying smart devices, predictive analytics and active network management strategies can overcome the pitfalls of aging infrastructure. Along the way, such modernization also can meet rising customer demand for reliability, green energy and a lesser carbon footprint.

According to the report, utility business models are changing to accommodate growing volumes of renewable energy coming onto the grid. Smart grid devices gathering staggering amounts of data about consumption habits and system health are propelling the adoption of powerful new software that collects this actionable information, giving utility managers an unprecedented tool to plan for tomorrow's energy needs.

The report explores how transformative initiatives — from the greater integration of renewable energy and distributed energy resources (DER) to the proliferation of electric vehicles (EVs) — are reshaping the market, fueling the grid modernization push.

The 2019 Strategic Directions: Smart Utilities Report provides expert insights about all of these topics – and more.

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Grid Edge Becomes the Center of Next-Generation Utilities

Economical advances in energy production, storage and control are giving rise to the prosumer, driving consumer choice and ultimately producing a new energy marketplace at the local distribution level. Utilities are left to wonder how they’re going to manage two-way power flow and variable DER while maintaining the reliability, efficiency and security of their operations. Distribution modernization is inevitable, and making the edge of the grid autonomous and interactive is paramount for satisfying tomorrow’s energy demands.

Modernization Plans Target DER-Ready Distribution Systems

Key drivers of investments that utilities are making in distribution system modernization stem from assets that utilities often don’t own – things like rooftop solar arrays, electric vehicles and battery energy storage systems. DERs are, by far, the top application that utilities are planning to support in the next three to five years, according to Black & Veatch’s report. We explain why.

Grid Modernization Will Require Active, Holistic Network Management

Utilities are under intense pressure in the pursuit of maximum uptime and lowered carbon footprints. As data on electric systems gains new attention among system operators seeking to better understand the actionable information flowing on their networks, advocates of the Internet of Things (IoT) and other integrated technologies have done a terrific job of selling utilities on the value of smart devices. But a persistent question nags: What is your strategy for managing your network?

NERC CIP Low-Impact Compliance Drives Opportunity to Improve Operational Technology Security

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) named cyberattacks on critical infrastructure one of the nation’s most serious and potentially devastating security challenges. According to DHS, U.S. utilities face down millions of attempted cyberattacks every day. Recognizing the threat these attacks pose to the national power grid, federal regulators actively are working to strengthen protections.

Private Wireless Networks: Catalyst for Grid Modernization

The electric grid is undergoing the most significant transformation in its history, with digital technologies and devices being pushed to the edge to support dynamic, two-way power requirements in real-time while also ensuring reliability, efficiency and security. 

Whole-Systems Modernization: A Data-Driven Approach to Asset Performance Management

Driven by a desire for increased monitoring, control and automation, improved reliability and efficiency, and a need to integrate DER, utilities are working to bring a massive new array of assets online in the distribution space. The speed, scale and complexity at which these advanced systems deploy will require visualization and immersive interaction wholly unachievable with today's methodologies, paving the way for a revolution in asset management. 

Is the Energy market Finally Ready For DER?

A few Years from now, perhaps some would argue this is already the case, the next generation will look back in perplexity at a time when record companies and radio stations had one-way control over distributing music to the masses. A statistically significant portion of the population will have no recollection of a world that had little control over what music was being supplied, and no choice but to trust that the service they were receiving had their best interest and tastes in mind. 

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