Safeguarding against disruptive innovation

Power Control
14 Jul 2020

It is a little known fact that the utilities sector is one of the most tech-hungry. Many of the technological advances are being driven by the clean energy transition and the UK’s commitment to achieving its net zero target by 2050.

Not only does the utilities market need to address the changes to consumption and introduction of smart energy products but it also needs to support the vast infrastructural changes that are being scoped. With the governments recent plea to build, build, build the utilities field is inextricably linked to ensuring the deployment of solutions that will work towards achieving the ambitious net zero target.

Applying new digital technologies whilst considering the inevitable changes to the energy grid presents its own challenges, disguised not so discreetly as disruptive innovations. The big question is, how does the industry stay ahead of the disruption.

Future developments to networks, infrastructure and supply cannot be at the detriment to existing services. Nor can the industry afford to overlook critical elements that directly impact their delivery. Some considerations:

  1. Electricity distribution. This is perhaps one of the most impacted areas due to the electrification of transport, which according to the National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios (FES), estimates there will be more than 35million electric vehicles by 2050. To prepare for this mass increase in load requirements, distribution networks are being improved and new ones developed. Over the next few years there will be more decentralised networks, which will aim to spread the load to minimise interruptions.
  2. The cryptography based data structure designed to create automatic, auditable and transparent records of generated energy and its consumption. Global Market Insights has reported that this digital transformation will generate over $3bn by 2025.
  3. Smart data and AI (Artificial Intelligence) through predictive data will play a much greater role in monitoring and forecasting, which will determine vulnerabilities to prevent power disturbances.
  4. Sustainability and the adoption of clean energy sources. All utilities will be vying to be the first to implement the most energy efficient solutions.

The unanimous approach of the industry to use new technologies to achieve breakthrough net zero targets means that power protection solutions will play a more vital role than ever. Although backup power such as UPS already play an essential part in today’s climate, power protection strategies will continue to grow in complexity as they evolve with the utilities landscape. The increasing number of power anomalies will require greater support.

It will be important for the industry to adopt resilient solutions that are designed specifically for harsh environments. These will need to meet stringent regulations both in terms of design and performance. Understanding how UPS systems fit into intricate utility infrastructures will need careful planning, where working with field experts will be recommended. UPS configuration and knowledge of load requirements and distribution is far more complex than many believe. Getting it wrong could have disastrous consequences.

Disruptive technology does not need to distract from continued service or performance as long as safeguarding measures are in place, the utilities sector will pave the way to reaching the UK’s net zero goal.