LayLine Automation

OT 2.0 - Six Vital Components

June 5, 2023

Navigating today’s rapidly changing energy landscape, the modernization of the power grid is a top priority. The evolution of the grid aims to improve reliability and resilience while expanding capacity to incorporate electric vehicles and renewable energy sources, into the complex operational utility machine. This shift aligns with the global push for a more sustainable and efficient energy future and is the cornerstone to the grids operational system evolution to OT 2.0

In order to realize this energy future, we must begin to consider OT 2.0 as a complex machine of interlocking parts. Generalizing, we define six vital components of this machine, and integral to the evolution to OT 2.0. These six components are described below. Here, we categorize the first three under 'Distribution Technology', the fourth and fifth as 'Monitoring of a Wide Area Sensor Network', and the sixth reflecting the shift in marketplace needs. Each important on its own, but interconnected yielding much more than asum of its parts.

  • Distribution Automation (DA): DA includes a broad set of technologies that work together to detect and respond to grid disturbances. For example, sensors can detect power outages and automatically alert the utility, automated switches can isolate affected areas, and re-route power to minimize the impact of the outage. These systems can also detect and respond to issues like voltage fluctuations, load imbalances, and equipment failures, helping to improve grid stability and reliability.
  • Renewable Energy Sources: Renewable energy sources (DERs) are clean, low-cost, and can be used to reduce carbon emissions and improve energy independence. As discussed in other blog chapters, DERs add complexity to the grid by potentially generating bi-directional power flow, etc. New systems must be implemented to better manage these renewables.
  • Energy Storage Systems (ESS): ESS can store excess energy during times of low demand, and release it during peak periods when demand is higher. This can help utilities avoid building expensive peaking power plants, and also help balance the grid when renewable energy sources like solar and wind power are variable.
  • Control Systems and Advanced Analytics: Control Systems and advanced analytics use high-frequency and data analytics to optimize grid performance, detect anomalies and predict failures before they occur within the grid. These systems analyze usage data to identify patterns and trends, and can potentially use this information to predict future demand. They can also automatically adjust grid operations to address any potential identified issues.
  • Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI): With smart meters, utilities can quickly identify outages, monitor voltage levels, and detect tampering or theft. They also enable time-of-use pricing and other demand response programs, which can help reduce peak demand and lower overall energy costs.
  • Customer  Engagement Platforms: Customer engagement platforms enable customers to interact with their utility in new ways, such as through mobile apps or web portals. These platforms can provide customers with real-time information on their energy usage and costs, and can also enable them to participate in demand response programs or other energy-saving initiatives. By engaging customers in this way, utilities can better manage demand and reduce overall energy consumption.

As we steer towards a future characterized by decarbonization, resilience, and democratized energy, it's the integration and orchestration of these six elements that will unlock the wealth of opportunities in the energy sector. However, realizing this new energy future requires a substantial shift in utilities' traditional mindset. It calls for comprehensive planning to integrate systems and customers, and a departure from the conventional siloed approach to systems management. In the upcoming chapter of this blog, we will delve deeper into the operational components of OT 2.0 systems. We'll also emphasize the necessity of novel thinking to dismantle the utility silos that currently are entrenched in OT 1.0 systems.

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