Study on connected utilities shows importance of mobile technology for digitizing the energy sector.
Ericsson and Arthur D. Little’s joint study on connected utilities sheds light on how the utility sector could use Mobile to manage the increasing complexity in the energy market. Utility companies need to be able to expand capacity, optimize infrastructure usage, increase network reliability, and improve operational efficiency through a secure and reliable network.
In addition, the utility sector faces growing challenges in cost control and cybersecurity. With electricity demand expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 2 percent over the next two decades, according to the IEA, utility companies will need to invest in new technologies to meet this demand and serve consumers in an optimal way.
Consumers are becoming prosumers
The report also highlights changes in the energy value chain. Consumers are becoming “prosumers,” feeding energy back into the grid through solutions such as rooftop solar, while also consuming energy. The value chain is evolving from a traditional one-way flow of electricity to a circular flow. In particular, 4G LTE technologies will prove critical to managing the bi-directional flow of prosumer power and increasing variability in renewable generation over the next decade and beyond. 5G connectivity is expected to come into play in the future.
Koustuv Ghoshal, Vice President & Head of Utilities, Ericsson, says, “Mobile connectivity is helping to accelerate the digital transformation of utilities. Electrical infrastructures have an operational lifetime of up to five decades. Therefore, connectivity technology is a worthwhile investment for utility companies as it will continue to deliver high business value in the years to come. As power generation methods expand to include renewables and transmission and distribution grid requirements become more complex, it is critical for the utility sector to evolve along with it through the continued integration of advanced mobile technology.”
Mobile technology, while still in development, already offers use cases for real-time data exchange, automatic detection of grid faults, distribution automation, networked electric vehicle charging, and energy management and optimization of buildings.