The data revolution for asset management

Data is already shaping our world, but how we use it could revolutionise asset management. Phil Dingle, marketing director at Lucy Electric, discusses the issue.

The data revolution for asset management

Our entire modern life is surrounded and controlled by data. Approximately 2.5 quintillion bytes are created each day, which means of all the data we have ever created in the world, 90 per cent of it was generated in the last two years.

Many companies collect data but analysing it to make it useful is a very different thing. To be meaningful and valuable, data needs to provide information that can be actioned. If we apply this principle to network engineering, monitoring substation data and capturing the information around the time of a fault is only part of the story.

The networks of today were designed to deliver electricity along a linear supply chain with predictable customer demand and a balanced system. This established network model has changed dramatically over the past few years with the rapid growth in disruptive technologies such as microgrids, energy storage and electric vehicles, alongside the increased use of renewables and distributed energy resources. Built-in flexibility from spare capacity has meant that the challenges of greater fluctuation in generation and demand profiles have so far been manageable but this has hidden the potential issues those changes have created.

This is not a sustainable situation and at the recent Network Asset Performance Conference, Lucy Electric explored how data can be used to help companies manage their networks and assets more actively. 

 

Creating value from network data

As a result of greater levels of automation and monitoring companies now collect significant amounts of data. Monitoring systems such as Lucy Electric’s Gridkey system have been helping companies to quickly identify and resolve issues in four important areas, namely faults, loading, power quality and losses.

The value of this data can be maximised by using it in multiple ways. Companies can define, refine and analyse data to provide insight not only on the routine running of networks but also to inform future development and investment to drive better business outcomes.

This starts by understanding the needs of multiple user groups within the company. Clear interpretation and presentation of information can also help. At this year’s Low Carbon Networks & Innovation Conference, we are launching the latest developments to our Gridkey system – a new graphical user interface (GUI). Designed to help DNOs and DSOs quickly interpret network data through clear, at a glance dashboard formats. It can be tailored and configured to different user profiles, supporting faster decision-making while also providing a history of the asset.

 

The future opportunities for network operators

From identifying system imbalance to understanding the level of losses on parts of the network, to looking at the detail of power quality to monitor the impact of low carbon technologies and plan for more, network operators are using data in many different ways.

There may be more than four years of RIIO-ED1 still to go, but UK network operators are already looking ahead at how greater innovation can support a more efficient grid. Having a grasp of the data will be a key part of enabling future energy markets and local balancing. It will drive the dynamic systems needed to support peer-to-peer energy trading at a local level, facilitate vehicle to grid power flows on a significant scale and unlock the new era of flexibility that is based on ever-changing factors rather than historic capacity.

 

Developing a network for the consumers of tomorrow

The planning for RIIO-ED2 has already started. The level of data network operators can get from their assets now, will be invaluable in planning for the demand of future customers. Ensuring that data collection is aligned with future strategy, as well as network management needs, will allow companies to prepare for the next decade of network management.

 


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