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LESSONS FROM THE WORLD’S

SMARTEST GRID Adrian Clark*

Well known for being an early adopter of technology, Japan has been no different when it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT). Tokyo, Japan’s capital city, recently modernised its traditional electric power grid, the fourth biggest in the world, with more than 10 million advanced meters and devices.

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rom what was once a static infrastructure, the electricity grid is now a highly connected network of devices and sensors. Japan’s willingness to embrace the development of smart networks through IoT has proved that these kind of deployments are possible in even the most densely populated locations on the planet. Japan’s main utility company, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company), has been able to optimise capital, better manage repairs to the grid and respond faster to peak demand and supply by accessing real-time information from Landis+Gyr’s smart meters. This also enables the utility to provide its customers with real-time energy usage data and respond to millions of demand response requests each hour. Globally, the introduction of smart networks has the potential to change the game for the utility industry and offer a compelling cost saving proposition to end customers. To date, though, outside of Japan, the adoption of smart grid and communication and information technologies has been slow-moving. While a number of different sectors have willingly embraced the idea of IoT and smart networks, the true possibilities of the utility industry in advancing smarter solution initiatives are yet to be seen. So what’s holding us back? Over the last decade, we’ve seen advancements in cloud infrastructure, open-source data software and scalable storage which can now accommodate big data.

Subsequently, in many industries, conversations have shifted around how to make more informed decisions for our future, using the data at our disposal; data that didn’t exist even five years ago. And although there are many different permutations of IoT and big data which could take up to a decade to realise, we’re already witnessing some of the large-scale rewards of smart solutions. Access to real-time information enables cities and governments to monitor urban congestion and pollution, generate more efficient waste collection systems and create responsive households that can react to dynamic energy prices. Australia is a leader in many of these fields; however, in today’s global market, our local utilities must innovate too.

Opportunities for utilities There’s a significant opportunity for Australia to learn from other countries in Asia — and the developing world — that are leveraging data and analytics and smart networks to monitor electricity outages and optimise storage on the grid, because there is a seemingly more pressing need to do so. These are countries with population multiple times what we have, and just like what we’ve seen in the telecommunications sector, we’ll see a leapfrog in technological innovation as these countries build out increasingly sophisticated energy solutions. The ability to extract data from a network of connected devices will enable utility companies to make smarter decisions around demand, know where to upgrade services and know which infrastructure

36 ECD [ELECTRICAL+COMMS+DATA] - SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017

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ECD (Electrical+Comms+Data) Sep/Oct 2017  

For those working in and managing mid to large sized electrical, communications and data contracting and wholesaler firms across Australia a...

ECD (Electrical+Comms+Data) Sep/Oct 2017  

For those working in and managing mid to large sized electrical, communications and data contracting and wholesaler firms across Australia a...