From Watts to Weather

In the first of a series of articles, Jens Dalsgaard, Principle Product Owner, Power Grid, Volue, gives his thoughts on whether traditional utility models are still viable in a rooftop solar and EV world.


Oct 31, 2023

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Jens had this to say. 

“For decades, electricity utilities have thrived on a bedrock of stability, where ideas of 'next year will be like the last' echoed through the industry. Predictable productions, loads, and grid operations were the norm. However, as the high-scale introduction of electric vehicles (EVs) and photovoltaic (PV) systems sweeps across the energy landscape, that stability has become a distant memory, giving way to a new era of uncertainty and transformative challenges. 

“This transformation is placing unprecedented demands on the electric grid, which must now transport significantly more energy while contending with volatile energy production and consumption patterns. 

“The result? A surge in customer connectivity requests, a cascade of grid reinforcement projects, and a shift toward operating the grid at greater demands than ever before. The IT solutions of today, once reliable, are no longer equipped to meet the challenges of this evolving landscape. As such, our grid operations must undergo a profound reinvention.” 

Where to Find the Fix for Evolving Electric Utilities? 

The solutions to these emerging challenges are far from straightforward, and there's no one-size-fits-all formula to address them. However, one thing remains crystal clear: the industry veterans who have been delivering consultancy, software, and hardware, and who have been fixtures in the industry for decades, must be willing to step out of their comfort zones to provide the necessary solutions. 

Jens takes up the story. 

“To navigate these uncharted waters, it's important to cast a wider net, exploring the market for fresh perspectives, drawing inspiration and insights from diverse sources, and acknowledging that solving these challenges demands an open-minded approach, collaborative efforts, a readiness to take calculated risks, and substantial investment,” he says.  

Jens adds, “Failing to embrace change in a timely manner could leave electric distribution companies grappling with monumental hurdles and significantly higher costs down the road”. 

Embracing the Future: Automation and the Digital Twin will be Essential for Meeting Utility Challenges 

Regardless of the vendor or specific IT solution, the linchpin of the future lies in automation, specifically driven by data for grid optimisation and operation. This data-driven operation, in turn, hinges on the availability of thorough, well-structured, high-quality information encompassing the entire grid—a concept that we at Volue refer to as the digital twin. 

Jens explains the importance of digital twin modelling below.  

“A digital twin serves as a meticulous digital replica of the entire grid infrastructure. Within this virtual realm, each cable within the grid is meticulously documented, including its precise geometry and essential property data such as commissioning date, cable type, and electric characteristics. This comprehensive documentation extends to encompass connections with other grid components. 

“Similarly, detailed documentation is maintained for substations, down to the specifics of the transformers, breakers, fuses, and their interconnections, both internally and with external cables and overhead lines. In essence, every individual component and line that constitutes the grid is meticulously catalogued, along with its network of connectivity, spanning from high voltage down to medium and low voltage segments. Typically, such a comprehensive digital twin is maintained within a Geographic Information System (GIS) solution or a Network Information System (NIS). 

“The utility of this digital twin is profound, serving as the bedrock for a wide range of grid analyses. It enables precise electric calculations, facilitates robust risk assessments, and offers a dynamic platform for sharing critical information with field personnel. Moreover, it empowers field workers to actively participate in the maintenance and update of grid data, fostering a collaborative approach to grid management.” 

In the face of the significantly amplified challenges confronting electric utilities, this digital twin emerges as the cornerstone for effectively controlling both capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operational expenditure (OPEX), ensuring the industry's resilience in the midst of transformation. 

Unleashing Volue Expertise in Tackling Electric Utility's Market Challenges 

Volue’s extensive business knowledge capabilities are poised to make a significant impact in tackling the challenges outlined in the market. 

Volue has established itself as the foremost vendor in the well-developed Scandinavian market since the 1980s. Through strategic acquisitions, we have cultivated an extensive knowledge base and a diverse array of capabilities that are highly relevant to the development of future-proof solutions. 

Volue’s power grid portfolio includes load and production forecasting, energy trading, comprehensive grid documentation, precise grid calculations, efficient grid connection management, meticulous grid planning, and effective grid maintenance, as well as many other solutions to meet the ever-changing needs of the sector.  

To find out how we can support your power grid requirements, please contact us today 

In our next article, “Navigating the Digital Frontier: Unleashing the Power of Digital Twins with Volue's Expertise”, we'll delve deeper into the concept of the digital twin, make a compelling case for considering ArcGIS Utility Network as your platform of choice, and demonstrate how Volue outperforms the competition by delivering best-in-class migrations with unmatched speed and quality.