Global Power Industry Report 2019: Utility 4.0 – Impact of Industrial Internet of Things

he Industrial Internet of Things, a critical facet of digital transformation that brings together different aspects of technology, is already leaving a lasting footprint on the power industry, and as new decade begins, the impact it could potentially have on the power industry could be a real game changer.

Bringing Different Aspects of Technologies Together to Achieve a Single Purpose: 

IIoT brings together next-generation, state-of-the-art aspects of technologies, such as fourth-generation sensors, Big Data, and edge intelligence, to the table, and with it also comes the power to monitor and harness data to derive intelligence which can act as the difference in a potential win or lose situation. This intelligence gives rise to new digital capabilities, such as predictive analysis and maintenance, remote monitoring, and end-to-end automation of an asset in operation, thus transforming an existing asset into a digitally agile, robust, and reactive one.

Can IIoT Make a Difference To How Power is Generated and Transmitted?

Utilities with assets in power generation often face stiff technical and business challenges in operation. While the technical challenges are different between utilities that generate conventional power with those that generate renewable power, the common thing that both utilities would agree on is neither operates without overcoming these challenges. These could be operation and maintenance, procurement challenges based on load visibility, or perhaps cybersecurity challenges. This is where IIoT can make a real difference. 

For example, consider a coal plant operating at a capacity factor of 40%, facing operational and maintenance challenges. With IIoT, next-generation sensors are installed across the plant, monitoring each and every movement. A new control architecture and operating platform is designed and developed based on artificial intelligence and is installed. That same plant is now likely to witness at least 10% to 20% efficiency gains in operation. More so, plant operators can now predict any operational and maintenance issues beforehand. However, this does require investment in capital, but the Return on Investment (ROI) is definitely positive.

In the case of power transmission, utilities often face maintenance issues and technical challenges, such as line losses and operation of legacy assets. While, turning grids smarter through the smart grid initiative alleviates some challenges mentioned above, a case for implementing an end-to-end IIoT strategy definitely exists and offers immense possibilities. Moreover there is electricity retail.