Smart technology end-to-end
Modern smart grids are a perfect integration of electricity transmission and Internet of Things (IoT) technology. High speed wide area connections and IoT help power companies embed low-cost sensors and controls into every part of their networks, from the power station to the transmission lines to the meters.
Smart grids enable power utilities to see instantly what is happening on the generation, distribution, and demand sides of their networks. This enables them to deliver stable supplies of power to the right network nodes, providing a better service in a complex environment. Digital infrastructure makes advanced monitoring and automation possible, and makes for lower-cost, safer operations. For example, smart meters cut meter reading costs; remote maintenance reduces the likelihood of component failure. Automation and robotics help reduce the need for specialist training, and enable companies to react faster to incidents.
And what do end users get out of digital technology? Well, they get more insight into which appliances use the most power, which gives them more control over their electricity bills. In some developed countries, consumers have the option to pick between multiple power suppliers, and can make themselves eligible for special prices by only using power at certain times of day. Some users also install their own solar panels, and actually receive a subsidy for feeding into the grid.
It is not just grids which need a digital overhaul. Power companies are working on their own digital transformations to get the most out of the new digital technologies. When physical equipment, applications, processes, and data can be effectively integrated, companies will have access to unprecedented levels of insight into the future, which will help them to manage their people and make well-grounded decisions on long-term strategy.