IoT Gearing up Utilities for Bright New Future

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The surge in Internet of Things is compelling traditional utility companies and industry providers to either adapt to the technology or lose ground to strong new entrants. Power Engineering International finds out how the technology is influencing the power sector.

The ubiquity of IoT is set to be the trend in 2018, say analysts. Electric utilities in the U.S. alone are likely to spend US$1.3 trillion to curtail operating costs over the next decade by means of technologies and processes powered by IoT. This is estimated based on the assertion that data collected is less than 2 percent of the overall data generated by a power plant.

These estimates apply only to the U.S., not including the opportunity for IoT in the rest of the world. It also brings to the fore the question the delay in understanding about the opportunity for IoT.

Adaptation to IoT to Commence with Home Loops

With the ubiquity of IoT, grid edge will be used in common parlance. Grid edge refers to hardware, software, and business innovations that are increasingly allowing installation of smart, connected infrastructure at or near the edge of the power grid. By edge it refers to proximity to end-use customers be it businesses, homes, or distribution systems rather than or transmission lines or power plants.

Alternately, it indicates direct threat to how utilities have long operated, and a movement that is pacing up led up outsiders. The delay in adapting to IoT has been because few things needed to converge concurrently, with the initial focus on integrating IoT with home loops. The move need not necessarily mean push for utilities.

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