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Feature | May 2014

Transforming Smart Grid data into intelligent, actionable insights

Smart Grid analytics is the process of examining raw data from smart grid sensors and devices, other forms of operational data, historical, and business data to keep a closer track of efficiency, consumption patterns and reliability.

Organisations in the utilities industry have seen many transformations over the past few decades. One of the most recent and significant transformation is the ´Big Data Wave.´ Globally and in India, businesses and government are investing in smart grid infrastructure in order to reap cost benefits, energy saving and in the long run, transform the way we perceive power. With Smart Grid, utilities will be able to keep a closer track of efficiency, consumption patterns and reliability. However, Smart Grid implementations will also produce a large amount of granular data, creating more requirements for people, processes and systems that can handle data. Imagine a situation where till yesterday, an electric meter recording was taken say twice a month. This will change with the Smart Grid implementations, to a situation where meter recordings may happen once in every fifteen minutes. The amount of data that can be created from this is massive, and so will be the potential to derive forward-looking insights. Analytics plays a significant role in terms of helping organisations maximise the returns on their smart grid investments and at the same time deliver superior value to end consumers.

Smart Grid Analytics is the process of examining raw data from smart grid sensors and devices, other forms of operational data, historical, and business data. Analytics can help technical and business users to make decisions based on facts and help keep the distribution network available and agile. Components of smart grid analytics include advanced load forecasting, data mining, predictive modelling, statistical / reliability analysis, network analytics, network optimisation and in-memory visualisation. ´Analytics´ makes the distribution network predictive, responsive, agile and self-healing for achieving the desired ROI.

Data generated due to smart grid implementation plays a critical role, as it directly represents consumer usage pattern, efficiencies, leakage, etc. It is important to first lay a strong data foundation before leveraging analytics. Data must be accurately collected, integrated, cleansed and managed before feeding into an analytical engine. SAS Data Management solutions help many organisations in doing so. Another important element is to equip the non-technical users with the power of forward-looking decision making. Users such as front-end staff, call center executives, finance teams, marketing users, business heads, etc., must be able to quickly and easily slice and dice data to derive meaningful insights. Data visualisation and in-memory analytics tools can help facilitate this. It makes it easier for users to manage meter data, see financial performance, usage trends, marketing impact and much more. SAS Visual Analytics is one such solution that helps business users in deriving forward-looking insights easily, quickly exploring data and creating and accessing interactive reports via the Web or Mobile Devices.

Smart grid analytics helps all stakeholders namely utilities, regulator, consumer and government in getting better benefits from this investment. Some of the key benefits are:

Improving Efficiency:
By deriving meaningful insights and foresight from meter data, organisations can improve asset utilisation, reduce transmission congestion, predictive asset maintenance, foresee consumption trends, and much more. This helps utilities in better adhering to regulatory compliances, reduce costs and efforts and better address consumer needs.

Optimising Consumption:
With smart grid implementations, there will be a huge chunk of consumer data available to the utilities. Analysing such data can reveal a consumer´s consumption patterns, trends, preferences, etc. Utilities can leverage this data to provide customised offers to consumers for optimally using power. This encourages consumers to save power by giving them appropriate offers and discounts. From a regulator or government standpoint, this is a win-win situation, since consumers are happy with cost savings and are optimally using power, the saved resources can be utilised for distribution in remote regions.

Enhancing Reliability:
Analytics can help in painting an accurate picture of future energy requirement and load forecasting, in the near, short and long term. This helps in being better prepared for the future and helps reduce blackouts, leading to improved customer satisfaction.

Driving All-round Business Growth:
Business growth is all about decisions and taking decisions based on facts can help improve the overall performance of business. Analytics can provide vital information on consumption trends, network intelligence, asset allocation, future requirements, etc. This helps save costs and at the same time utilises energy, personnel and infrastructure more efficiently. It also allows them to enter new markets and serve remote areas better. All of this positively impacts topline and bottomline. Regulators can also better ascertain the power requirement, based on location and consumer segments. This leads to optimal power utilisation and cost reductions.

Impacting the Environment Positively:
Optimal usage of power by consumers and power renewal / reusal by utilities, helps a long way in preserving scarce resources and reducing emissions.

Smart Grid implementation will certainly transform the future of utilities in India and across the globe. The benefits of smart grid implementation can enhance the lives of consumers, discoms, regulators and government. Smart Grid Analytics can further enhance these benefits and help derive maximum returns on smart grid investment. Analytics enables a predictive, responsive, agile and self-healing distribution network, helping in cost reductions, meeting regulatory compliances, delivering better value to consumers and attaining business objectives. Smart grid implementation poses a big opportunity in the utilities industry. At the vanguard of this opportunity, will be the organisations which embrace analytics as a culture and make decisions based on facts, will gain a competitive advantage.

SAS is ranked No. 1 for smart grid analytics and data management/movement in the recently released utility industry report, The Soft Grid 2013-2020: Big Data & Utility Analytics for the Smart Grid, by GTM Research. Energy and utility leaders around the world rely on SAS´ analytics expertise to deliver the effective smart grid solutions for data-driven decision making across the enterprise in deriving maximum value out of their Smart Grid investment. In addition to trends and predictions for the soft grid, the report forecasts that cumulative global spending on smart-grid-related analytics will top $20.6 billion between 2012 and 2020, with annual spend reaching $3.8 billion globally in 2020.

The author of the article is Sudipta K. Sen, Regional Director - South East Asia, Vice Chairman and Member of Board, SAS Institute (India).

SAS and all other SAS Institute Inc. product or service names are registered trademarks or trademarks of SAS Institute Inc. in the USA and other countries. « indicates USA registration. Other brand and product names are trademarks of their respective companies. Copyright ¬ 2013 SAS Institute Inc. All rights reserved.

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