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Everything You Need to Know About Electric Grids Trends

The transformation of electric grids is a new phenomenon. But regulatory, commercial, and environmental divers are accelerating the development and uptake of more innovative solutions. These solutions provide the utilities industry and their consumers with increasingly better options for the generation, usage, and management of electric power and energy.

Why transition at all?

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals continue to be at the top of boardroom agendas. Many of the steps taken by big firms are seen to be in a more ecologically responsible and socially conscious light. These include decarbonization, inclusion of renewable energy sources, and lowered costs for the consumer.

Some of these measures, however, counteract each other. For instance, decentralization and inclusion of renewables render the existing power grids obsolete. This calls for upgrades and new construction projects which in turn increase the cost burden on the consumer.

Moreover, the transmission and distribution of power utilities come with inevitable inefficiencies. These include energy loss in the form of heating of transmission lines and energy theft. The race to close the gap between energy generated and energy delivered to customers is evidently afoot.

The solution? Power grid optimization keeping in mind the ESG requirements. This requires newer and more efficient technology to be developed and deployed.

What electric grids trends to look out for?

Let us now look into the milestones that the wider utility industry is working towards to achieve everything from grid reliability to lower emissions.

Transitioning to clean, green, and responsible

A shift from more traditional fuel sources towards renewables and from rustic, inefficient machines to the tech of the future is evidently accelerating. Climate change action by both developed and developing nations is running at full throttle. It is accelerated by conventions such as the COP26 held in late 2021. More and more nations are pledging to cut carbon emissions by ever-increasing percentages in ever-decreasing time frames. Seems like a mouthful, indeed. But it’s not just limited to words.

Utility businesses are increasingly trying to balance affordability and provision while keeping social and environmental equity in tow. This includes efforts to cater to the demands of historically underserved communities, increase power grid efficiency, and reduce carbon emissions.

Questioning – and Improving – Grid Reliability

The fact that the majority of today’s infrastructure for energy distribution is obsolete is not news. The call for increased inclusion and dependence on renewables such as solar and wind along with the prevalence of decentralization disrupts the grid infrastructure even further. This calls for expansion of the transmission system and improvement of grid stability.

In 2022, the utilities sector is likely to increase investment in making the power grid more resilient. For instance, assets are mapped to determine whether they are within the perimeters of extreme weather events. Then, vulnerability analyses are carried out… In this manner, mitigation interventions are directed exactly where needed.

Applications for improved detection, communication, and control are already being put into action to increase grid reliability, efficiency, and flexibility. Such efforts are alleviating some of the challenges presented by renewable energy integration as well.

Innovating for energy storage

Energy storage solutions have evolved enormously, making it possible to share the burden of energy storage with the consumer. In the latter half of the last decade alone, global battery energy storage capacity increased more than 12 times.

One of the major features of energy storage solutions is their ability scale. This means that increasing demand can be met with a comparably increasing supply. Thus, they mitigate market shortages and become a solution for backup power.

Energy storage tech also helps subside some of the challenges that long-distance transmission of power utilities creates. They also help cater to the peak hours demand, especially when utility prices skyrocket. This further increases the stability and reliability of the electric grid.

Increasing focus on EVs

Another move in the direction to store energy and improve grid stability is the introduction of electric vehicles (EVs).

Technologies such as smart and Vehicle-to-Grid charging are paving the way for EVs to effectively store and resupply electric power from and to the grids. This is made possible by charging EVs while plugged into the grid during off-peak hours and discharging them back into the grid during peak hours.

It helps the case of EVs that demand, as well as production, of EVs is skyrocketing. It is predicted that EVs will account for almost 32% of the global total market share by 2030, up from just 2.6% in 2019. This industry boom drives grid planners, operators, and engineers to develop and employ solutions (like two-way electric grids) to cater to arising challenges.

Implementing Artificial Intelligence and Big Data

Increased demand for and development of digital solutions for asset and risk management is ushering in a new era for the utility industry.

Billions of dollars are being invested in piloting the “smart grid” to optimize prices and increase capacity. The accompanied smart metering provides insights into consumer behaviour and asset utilization data.

Certain grid operations are integrated with artificial intelligence for better control and delivery. Digitization and automation allow for remote operations and contactless delivery, while virtual solutions ensure business and operational continuity.

To make matters better, the power sector is self-incentivizing to reduce hurdles to taking up digitization. This is done by improving data collection and communication pathways. AI is used to analyze data and improve decision-making while machine-learning techniques are also adopted.

Conclusion

The power sector is adapting to a changing commercial and regulatory landscape. Utilities can accelerate growth and modernization by devising actionable goals and having the drive to materialize them.

Given the challenges of managing electric grids, improving grid reliability, innovation in energy storage and AI integration are key steps.  All these steps must be taken with a focus on ESG requirements.

This is where Aptimize comes in. Developed by the experts at Aplines, Aptimize carries out risk assessment and streamlines decision-making. Through AI integration, it can help you minimize risk and improve grid reliability.

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