After three highly interesting days, the first big utilities conference of the year has concluded. Being an active part of the community, and through talking to many attendees and exhibitors on the floor, we’re happy to present you the major industry trends that will drive the utilities sector in 2018.
DistribuTECH 2018 in San Antonio, TX is one of the biggest trade shows for utilities and their software and hardware related vendors in the United States. SEEBURGER was proud to be part of that thriving and dynamic community that strives to provide reliable, secure and sustainable access to energy all across the North American continent.
In our interactions with visitors and exhibitors we identified five major trends that will be shaping the utilities industry in 2018 like no other:
1) Aging Infrastructure vs. Smarter Infrastructure
The aging software and hardware of the grid poses a serious problem for all utility companies. As the new generations of smart and interconnected devices hit the market, they all can help to reduce energy intensity while driving up the information intensity needed to better understand the various users.
2) Maintaining operations and reliability during severe weather conditions
Experiences in 2017 showed us how dependent on weather our whole society is: severe weather has caused major power outages and delivered a compelling presentation on the weaknesses of our current system. No wonder this was a hot topic among the attendees and exhibitors on the floor, with many companies presenting their solutions to improve grid resilience, faster outage detection and quicker restoration services.
3) Central generation vs. distributed generation
The centralized system with central power plants providing energy to various regions is about to be complemented with cheap and affordable renewable energy sources linked into so called Distributed Energy Resources (DER). DER can offer locally produced energy to local consumers and help to sustain a certain amount of baseload on the grid.
4) From smart meters to active grids and smart cities
Smart meters can count and transmit meter data, but that is not the only thing they can be used for. Imagine meters talking to each other to find the source of an outage or malfunction? Or using their sensors to track seismic waves and warn of earthquakes or other natural disasters. And while they do, they can relay this information to other smart devices like street lighting, traffic lights or public billboards.
5) “We need access to information real-time, all the time”
As Gil Quiniones, President and CEO of the New York Power Authority said in his keynote, data needs to be available in real time to maintain the active grid and the challenges that come along with distributed energy resources and changing energy consumption behavior. For this, a special infrastructure is needed that is able to deliver all the necessary data from meters, transformer stations, power line communication and various sensors to the right place and system in a utility company.
With all these emerging new technologies comes the challenge of integrating various data types, files and protocols to ensure a smooth operation. Being a leading Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), SEEBURGER provides a wide range of tools and solutions to cover those needs. We want to thank all visitors and attendees that took their time and had a little chat with us.
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