Renewable Integration: Trends, Challenges and Digital Measures

August, 2019


An electricity consumer receives a message on his smart-phone application, informing him of a cloudy forecast for the next day. The application also advises him to fully charge up his home storage batteries from his solar roof-top system so that he can draw down the charge when cost of grid-electricity shoots up. While this may not exist at the moment, all the pieces are in place for such technology implementation by Utilities.
With the increasing adoption of renewable energy, Utilities are facing the need to adjust their technology set-up for seamless integration of renewables with the electricity grid. Utilities need real-time operational information about the renewable units to ensure smooth management of the electricity grid. Utilities need to view, monitor and control the units within their area of operations. While solutions have been developed to address most of these requirements, a careful and well-laid approach is required for implementing the same.
The electricity market is deregulated and has multiple players in the value chain. Therefore, the introduction of any new solutions or applications may impact the underlying positions and economic interests of different stakeholders. The solution lies in optimally balancing the risks and rewards of technological interventions in order to minimize the impact on each stakeholder. Additionally, concerns regarding Return on Investment (RoI), Data Privacy, etc., need to be addressed. Therefore, a planned and phased approach needs to be drafted with the involvement of Government, Regulator, Utilities, and consumers.
A structured approach to renewable energy by Utilities and other stakeholders will allow for seamless integration without cost duplication and service interruption. The digital components of this strategy will enhance efficiency and eliminate redundancy. Forecasting will improve visibility of demand for conventional power plants. This would enable them to better plan their generation thereby preventing idling of assets and increase in power plant efficiency. Real-time communications would eliminate the information asymmetry between renewable generators, system operators and consumers. As a result, coordinated actions will reduce the stress on network assets, thus preventing breakdowns and elongating lifespan.
There are many advantages to the consumers, generators and the civil society as a whole. The savings would be distributed across the entire country. But most importantly, digital technologies will pave the way for futuristic collaboration between various Utilities, their consumers and generators.
Read the full article to gain insides of challenges, trends, and tips for digital strategy implementation in renewable energy of the Utility Industry.