Jul 13 2023

How Tech Tools Can Make a Smart Grid Even Smarter

As technology evolves to meet users’ needs, tech tools are enhancing the smart grids that will power our near future.

The electrical grid relies on technology to strike the balance between anticipating and meeting the energy needs of consumers. That fact won’t change anytime soon. But there will be changes to how the grid interacts with technology — primarily because the continuation of digital work from anywhere mandates an ongoing shift in energy supply as many workers need power at home instead of (or in addition to) the office.

This shift presents an important smart grid opportunity. Working remotely has led to new collaboration and security solutions, all of which can be employed by energy companies to provide better customer service and more reliable energy — and it all starts with smart grids.

Smart Grids Rely on Technology to Forecast Supply and Demand

Failing to accurately forecast and supply energy demands has its consequences. With a production cost of over $100 per megawatt hour, depending on the source, excess energy production can pose a significant cost to power plants. But failing to supply enough energy can cost companies even more if they lose customers.

A smart grid — an electricity network using advanced technologies to monitor and manage the transportation of electricity from all sources of generation — can avoid both extremes.

Using automated tools such as machine learning, smart grids can capitalize on the granular usage data provided by smart meters informed by deep-learning models, predictive analytics and other tools to forecast energy demand. These smart grids help energy providers accurately predict and meet consumer energy needs, even considering variables such as weather, random disturbances and other factors that influence load forecasting.

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Technology Use Is Set to Evolve in the Near Future

AI isn’t the only evolving technology that will be front and center in the near future. The Internet of Things continues to rise, so much so that IDC estimates there will be 41.6 billion IoT devices in 2025.

Consider the surge in electric vehicles: According to GM, EV sales should top $50 billion in 2025, and production is expected to reach 1 million units annually in North America that year.

Technology’s Role in Smart Grid Development in 2023 and Beyond

As the smart grid incorporates evolving technology — including controls, computers and automation — these new systems and equipment will communicate with the electrical grid to make for faster, smoother energy use.

This means that as energy demands change rapidly, technology will provide smart grids with distinct advantages, such as faster power restoration after outages, more effective power transmission and large-scale integration of renewable energy.

Easing the Integration of Renewable Energy Sources into Smart Grids

Smart grids can help utilities better manage renewable energy, particularly because they no longer have to depend on customers to report outages. That said, renewable energy sources don’t always fit seamlessly with electrical grids. In fact, the recent build-out featuring renewables from around the world has led to grid overload.

To avoid overload and successfully integrate renewable energy sources into smart grids, companies must start by gathering the correct data. IoT devices can also help.

As companies look to integrate more renewable resources, smart grids are a major advantage. And considering the transition to clean energy in places like the U.K., Thailand and New York, where the state’s public power provider is required to generate all of its electricity from clean energy by 2030, this technological evolution is right on time.

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