The electricity industry is undergoing a transformation. With utilities embracing geospatial technology and turning into data driven enterprises in the Smart Grid scenario, the sector is staring at an innovative future.
The National Academy of Engineering identifies the electric power grid as the first of 20 major engineering achievements that has had the greatest impact on the quality of life in the 20th Century. Modern society has reached a point where virtually every crucial economic and social function depends on the secure, reliable operation of electric power infrastructure. But because it has become so crucial for modern life, it faces major challenges.
The major drivers for the fundamental change underway in the electric power industry are increasing demand, universal access, decarbonizing electric power, reducing revenue losses, and grid reliability and resilience. Some of the technologies that are contributing to this transformation are intelligent devices integrated with a communications network, distributed renewable power generation especially wind and solar PV, net zero energy buildings, microgrids, and the new remote sensing technologies of subsurface utility engineering.
For an industry not known historically for rapid change, many utilities are in the midst of transforming themselves into data driven enterprises. Recently IDC published its future predictions for the development of the electric power industry over the period 2015-2018. For many in the industry these are quite startling and clearly reflect an industry that is rapidly evolving.
The technology roadmap for the smart grid involves the deployment of increasing numbers of intelligent electronic devices for sensing and for control. The challenge is federating the data from all of these devices, extracting information from it, and dispatching the information to the right control devices.
With the changes that the electric power industry is undergoing now, analysts see geospatial technology poised to become a foundation technology for the smart grid. The role of utility GIS is expected to touch every aspect of a utilities business, affecting customers, operations and management because geospatial is the logical technology that can provide the basis for integrating data from intelligent electronic devices such as smart meters and the information silos associated with proprietary applications.
You can read more about smart grid and relevance of geospatial data and technology, real-time big spatial data, standards for interoperability, the importance of data quality, open source geospatial technology, spatial analytics and other aspects of the role of geospatial technology in the smart grid in Geospatial World.