How Smart Grids Transform the Facets of Asset Management

CIO Review Europe | Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Although smart grid technologies, infrastructure, and data turn asset management more complicated, utilities should ensure that whatever asset strategy they deploy supports overall asset management in terms of life cycle management, risk management, and financial and operational efficiency.

Fremont, CA: The evolution and implementation of smart grid technology have changed asset management challenges for energy firms. The smart grid produces wholly new and more diverse classes of assets, such as infrastructure, firmware, software, communications networks, and storage capabilities. And, as the speed of smart technology rollout accelerates and scales projects result in millions of smart endpoint devices (IEDs) across the grid, the number of assets to be handled is unparalleled.

Meanwhile, smart grid data, which energy providers must capture, store, and envision, has become an asset class of its own. Collecting vast volumes of new data from smart endpoint systems is just the start. Energy utilities must be able to produce actionable data insights, develop advanced asset management algorithms, and optimize machine learning principles to manage asset cost, efficiency, and risk to get the actual return on smart grid investment.

In short, the drastic and increasing impact of smart grid technology on facilities means energy providers now need to add more and more dynamic assets to their portfolio of asset management. We now need to introduce more complex asset management systems.

Managing Smart Grid Assets

As energy companies face the challenge of handling smart grid assets, new trends and approaches are starting to emerge:

Integrating Approaches for New Categories of Assets: since new groups of smart grid assets have shorter lifespans, different depreciation rates, complex maintenance needs, and distinct operation scenarios, new approaches to asset integration are evolving. Integration of legacy utility equipment (breaker generators, transformers) with new electronic control and monitoring devices means utilities need to handle multi-aged assets with differing depreciation rates. As a result, they are starting to build new capacity to defend rate cases and resolve the difficulty of running and handling multi-age assets. For example, this involves the addition of Network Operating Centers (NOCs) to handle communications in addition to the standard System Operating Centers (SOCs) to manage switching operations.

Managing A Rise in Asset Volume: The advent of AMI, smart distribution line sectionalizing switches, automated capacitor banks, transmission synchrophasor, and other smart endpoint devices are expected to double the value of utility assets in the coming years. As a result, companies are increasingly reassessing current asset management hierarchies, record structures, and overall asset methodologies to accommodate volume transition.

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