Smart grids progressing globally, benchmarking shows

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SP Group’s annual Smart Grid Index indicates that most utilities are embracing new technologies in response to industry challenges.

The survey shows that North America continues to lead smart grid development, which can be traced to the region’s early adoption of the technologies.

However, over the past year Europe has improved the most, in comparison to other regions of the world.

Globally, there has been increased focus on data analytics, particularly in Asia Pacific, as well as cybersecurity. But supply reliability issues, as measured by SAIDI and SAIFI, are lagging.

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The 2020 issue of the Smart Grid Index is SP Group’s third annual benchmarking of the smartness of power grids globally. The index is intended as a simple and quantifiable framework and draws on publicly available information to assess smart grid status in seven dimensions – monitoring and control; data analytics; supply reliability; distributed energy resource integration; green energy; security; and customer empowerment and satisfaction.

Smart utilities

The 2020 Smart Grid Index benchmarks a total of 85 utilities across 37 countries and markets.

British network operator UK Power Networks tops the list, rising to first place and displacing the previous number one, Pacific Gas & Electric, into second place.

UK Power Networks has been ranked first in the UK and Europe since the first study in 2018, and its advancement in the past year can be attributed particularly to progress in renewable energy penetration, electric vehicle facilitation and OT and IT cybersecurity.

Another British network operator Western Power Distribution is in third place, with a much increased score since 2019. Others in the top five are the New York energy company Con Edison and Victoria, Australia distributor CitiPower.

All of these have now overtaken the previous top rankers, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric and Italy’s e-distribuzione, which have little or no recorded progress over the past year.

At the opposite end of the rankings are Buenos Aires distributor Edesur and City Power from Johannesburg, South Africa. While both have increased scores over the previous year, the low scores and the absence of utilities from Latin America and Africa in the listing is indicative likely in part to a lack of information but more generally to the limited progress in smart grids in these regions.

“When we published our Future Smart Strategy in 2018 we made a commitment to work closely with the industry and co-create new products and services to aid our transition to the electricity network of the future,” says Barry Hatton, director of asset management at UK Power Networks.

“We’re delighted that our work has been recognised on a global stage in the Smart Grid Index, but we know there’s still a lot to do to transition from a distribution network operator to a distribution system operator.”