Utilities are implementing big data discovery and analytics tools to better manage energy flow and distribution, among other key benefits. But what are the benefits to the utility’s customers - government, commercial and residential energy users - as the power grid integrates these “smart data” enhancements?
A power grid that collects and analyzes volumes of data in real-time can serve as the foundation for those municipalities wishing to become ‘smart cities'. Deep insights into citywide energy use can help cities conserve energy and save money, from managing street lights and facilities to charging public vehicles.
Data analytic insights can also help cities determine better ways to reduce carbon emissions, such as assisting the development of clean transportation by plotting the requirements for charging stations along routes for electric buses, taxis, and private cars. These insights can also help connect, monitor and manage microgrids of renewable energy, such as rooftop solar installations or backyard windmills.
Of course, smart grid data insights can help the citizenry and businesses reduce costs and conserve energy. With smart grid data, utility customers can have more transparency into their energy consumption and how it fits into broader patterns in their community to better understand billing rates. Much like the dashboard on hybrid and electric cars, customers can be immediately apprised if they are wasting energy, or switch to their own renewable energy power and carefully monitor the mix of self-produced and grid energy.
In a storm or other weather-related event, a smart grid steeped in real-time data analytics can respond more quickly to utility customer issues, oftentimes remotely. And as residents and businesses continue connecting appliances and other powered equipment, devices will be able to automatically respond to grid conditions and consumers can control when and how devices are using energy.
The possibilities are endless when data analytics capabilities reach deep into energy infrastructure. Utilities will be better for its customers a better overview of energy use in commercial buildings, manufacturing plants and within the home.
Utilities will also be able to apply data analytics to microgrids on factory sites, for instance, to help larger commercial installations gain the best advantage from on-site renewable energy resources. Analytics will also come into play as energy technologies come online to maintain a steady power flow 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What is becoming clear is that energy data is becoming nearly as significant as the energy source itself in keeping cities, residents and businesses running smoothly now and into the future. Driven by optimization and customer engagement improvements, the current global smart grid data analytics market is projected to grow from $1.3 billion today to $4.8 billion by 2022, with a compound annual growth rate of 16 percent.
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