Monday, January 30, 2012

Location Intelligence for Alternative Energy Smart Grids

Electrical utility corporations and location intelligence providers have long understood the usefulness of location intelligence to the generation, transmission and consumption of electrical power. The advent of alternative energy supplies and smart grids have made this connection even stronger.

A smart grid:
is a digitally enabled electrical grid that gathers, distributes, and acts on information about the behavior of all participants (suppliers and consumers) in order to improve the efficiency, importance, reliability, economics, and sustainability of electricity services (Wikipedia).
Although the term "smart grid" has been with us for a while, the reality has been slow to develop, largely because smart grid deployment is complex and capital-intensive. For example, one of the first deployments, the Telegestore project in Italy (completed in 2005) saves about 500 million Euros per year, but cost 2.1 billion Euros to deploy. As one of the first such deployments, they had to take responsibility for the design and manufacture of meters, the development of system software, and they had to act as their own system integrator (Wikipedia).

While the world lags in the development of smart grids, the growing popularity of, and need for, alternative energy sources adds a new wrinkle. It's one thing to manage the supply and demand of electrical power efficiently when you have complete control of the rate of generation, quite another when you're using wind and solar, and the wind doesn't blow and the sun doesn't shine.

Growing complexity calls for better ways to analyze data. Smart grids are all about location: where is the power generated? Where consumed? Consumption is obviously an important determinant of where energy should be generated, and alternative generation method, with their low environmental impact, are more amenable to demand-centered location. (NIMBY ‑ not-in-my-backyard ‑ syndrome is likely to be less pronounced then for, say, a nuclear power plant or a hydro-electric dam.)

A recent article in LBx Journal describes the collaboration between SolarReserve and NV Energy. Nevada (NV) Energy manages their smart grid using location intelligence, particularly for site selection, but also for "generating consistent reliable energy to the grid is a whole."

For upper management, location intelligence provides a means of visualizing all of the business intelligence that influences strategic decision making ‑ LI delivers a map of your customers and prospects, suppliers and competitors, assets and liabilities, challenges and opportunities, and your strengths and weaknesses.

For operations, it's all about knowing who is generating and consuming, where and when they are doing so, and how to make supply meet demand without waste.

For more information on location intelligence for utilities, view the recorded APOS webinar:
Location Intelligence: Energize Decision Making in Utilities

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