Energy and utilities companies are shifting gears to embrace renewable energy sources and distribution following the August passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which many experts regard as the most significant climate change legislation the U.S. has ever passed. The law includes billions of dollars for increasing energy efficiency in homes, the construction and modification of electric transmission facilities, and incentives for electric vehicles.
As the energy and utilities industry responds to the law, it is also contending with persistently high inflation, the need to make electric grids and infrastructure more resilient and secure, and the rise of newer technologies such as artificial intelligence.
In the year ahead, experts say, the sector is likely going to be shaped by several technology trends. These include the need for firms to secure supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, the growing adoption of edge computing, and the use of AI to forecast energy needs, manage assets and efficiently store energy.
1. IT and OT Convergence Will Be Important for SCADA Security
Cybersecurity is by no means a new concern to the E&U industry, but worries are likely to grow as more assets become connected to the internet, and as firms converge their IT and operational technology (OT) systems.
Many E&U companies in 2023 and beyond will be moving to a platform approach to their OT to “kind of plug in all of these large applications and critical asset applications on the one single platform to have a holistic view” of what is going on, says John Villali, research director for IDC Energy Insights. That could include everything from enterprise asset management systems to asset performance management systems and even advanced distribution management systems.
That is going to require firms to have a more holistic cybersecurity view of IT and OT, as well as SCADA systems, according to Villali. It also means energy firms are going to need a clearer view of where all their data resides, since it is often siloed.