Utilities – don’t overlook monitoring and sensing, says report


As utilities adopt smart grids, they will need to change their “run-to-fail” approach to asset management and condition-monitoring (AMCM) of the power grid, says insight company Navigant Research.

Despite predictions in the study that spending on monitoring and sensing will total US$49.2 billion by 2023, not many utilities are including them in their networks, researchers discovered.

Richelle Elberg, senior research analyst at Navigant, said: “Emerging sensor technology and analytics solutions have the potential to completely revolutionise the way the power grid is managed and maintained.

“The proliferation of distributed generation and electric vehicles means that soon business-as-usual strategies will no longer be viable for effective asset management.”

The study found that the penetration of sensors that monitor temperature or dissolved gases for high-value assets such as large power transformers is estimated at only 20 per cent in the US and Europe – with the exception of transmission substations.

However the report suggested that “as sensor prices fall and reliability and efficiency become higher priority for utilities and regulators, willingness to invest is expected to grow”.

Trust issues
Other challenges to the adoption of AMCM solutions – such as sensors, smart meters, asset management and analytics systems – was operational silos within utilities and the trust within the control room.

The report said personnel and managers in charge of asset planning, field crews and inventory need to grow comfortable with the output of physical sensing and analytics solutions.

Although penetration in the US and Europe for AMCM solutions is low, these issues are getting more attention than in other regions.

The report concluded that financial pressures in the U.S. and burgeoning distributed generation in Europe give countries in these regions greater motivation to explore AMCM solutions.

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Utilities – don’t overlook monitoring and sensing, says report