Owners of U.S. electric utility transmission and distribution (T&D) assets could look to August 16, 2022 as the start of a new era for deeper smart grid improvements. As the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 was signed into law that day, tax credits for electric vehicles (EV), renewable energy sources and major improvements to T&D infrastructure in the United States, will encourage many utilities to lead the charge in enabling industries to fight climate change.
As this overview will show, the United States lags far behind many other countries in the level of penetration of renewable sources of electric power. However, several leading U.S. states have achieved high levels of renewable energy penetration, and the drive to meet decarbonization goals will require the U.S. to increase electrification while reducing emissions associated with power generation. electricity.
More widespread electrification in the industrial, commercial and residential sectors is the cornerstone of a successful energy transition worldwide, for both developing and developed countries. But the path to increased adoption of renewable sources of electricity, electric vehicles and other distributed energy resources must be paved with massive infrastructure improvements, forcing utilities to expand their capabilities using advanced analytics. Such improvements are needed to fully exploit the value of rich real-time data on electricity usage and network performance, which is often underutilized.
Utilities are under increasing pressure to integrate renewables and DER
Many utilities in the United States are at a crossroads: will they enjoy the rewards of showing they are leaders in the energy transition, or will they suffer the risks and inconveniences of being seen as obstacles to it, even though many of the obstacles they face stem from regulatory issues over which utilities have no control?
The U.S. electrical T&D system consists of assets with life spans of between 25 and 35 years and current asset values of between $1.5 and $2.0 trillion. It should come as no surprise that the price of planned upgrades over the next few years is in the hundreds of billions of dollars. With new tax incentives of $7,500 for consumers to buy electric vehicles, as well as steep increases for additional wind, solar and transmission capacity building, the IRA will increase grid complexity and the amount of data generated. from this one. This, in turn, increases the value of advanced analytics, as well as advanced measurement infrastructure (AMI).
Advanced Distribution Management Systems (ADMS) are part of an overall systematic approach that drives greater value. The value of the whole can be greater than the proverbial sum of its parts, when supporting more dynamic network operations by leveraging distributed energy resources and demand response in combination with advanced analytics and systems relying on more real-time data (including AMI capabilities) . Despite the benefits of AMI, 35% of U.S. utilities still lack the metering infrastructure required to support new service offerings and deeper industrial, commercial, and residential end-user programs, including:
- Rates according to the hour of use (TOU).
- Services and solutions behind the meter (BTM).
- Cost savings through peak clipping/shifting with demand response.
- Ability for owners of electric and photovoltaic (PV) vehicles to sell electricity back to the grid during peak demand.
Many EV chargers have built-in Wi-Fi and metering capabilities, which could bypass any immediate need for AMIs at a particular location. However, utilities that have AMI implemented in their distribution system are better positioned to realize the full benefits of EVs and other DERs.
Challenges for US utilities in the face of the energy transition
The United States lags advanced economies in Europe and Asia in the production of renewable energy sources relative to total electricity production. A key to closing the gap will be advanced analytics from T&D, along with a much-needed push to upgrade US utility infrastructure where advanced measurement infrastructure is still lacking.
Advanced analytics and full exploitation of the two-way data streams required for electric vehicles and the increased penetration of rooftop solar and DER programs require new investments for the 35% of US utilities without AMIs; as well as a portion of utilities that have a full or partial AMI installation but have not yet leveraged the full value of available real-time data. Major utilities are now providing better service to customers by sharing information about their energy use with them and giving them information on how to reduce their bills and maintain their home or business equipment. more economical and more reliable.
The benefits generated by T&D’s advanced analytics are tangible and can be realized quickly. This includes workflow improvements associated with insights generated by new visualization tools as well as time-saving tools to automate updates with real-time data in support of daily, weekly, monthly reporting or standard annuals.
Vital role of T&D Advanced Analytics in the energy transition
Advanced analytics, driven by deeper use of real-time network and DER data at the network edge, is playing an increasingly important role in helping the utility industry meet the needs of industrial customers. , commercial and residential in order to meet the increasingly complex demands of decarbonization and energy transition. The modeling of the T&D system plays a key role.
Some utilities have already started using digital twins to optimally model projected future states of their transmission systems, along with advanced analytics to assess various scenarios for planning purposes. Their journey has only just begun, but the paths are clearing and the prospect ahead shows greater value beyond the significant benefits already realized.
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Keywords: Advanced Analytics, Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), Advanced Distribution Management Systems (ADMS), Distributed Energy Resources (DER), Energy Transition, Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Electric Utilities, ARC Advisory Group.