Volue’s Smart Solutions for the Power Grid Challenge DSOs Thinking
The distributors of electricity connect humans and businesses to life as we know it. It’s the Distribution System Operators (DSOs) that support the everyday functioning of households and businesses.
This is no small responsibility. The cost and consequences of outages to society and businesses is huge. Delivering a high up-time means billions of Euros saved.
As so much in power distribution depends on tradition, it is natural for DSOs to have a conservative viewpoint.
But the green transition is a game-changer. New power distribution technologies, combined with renewable energy sources, are forming a queue to transform tradition.
As a market leader in the Nordics, Volue has supported DSOs in the digitalisation of electrical distribution for more than three decades. We deliver network information systems and decision-support systems for documenting the power grid and for automating processes.
What we see is that to succeed in the green transition, DSOs need to move away from reactive grid control and towards proactive grid control. But for this, data and software solutions are as important as hardware.
From reactive to proactive grid control
In our home market, the Nordics, we already support DSOs in moving from reactive to proactive power grids.
30 years ago, we started out with software for digitally documenting the grid. Later, we developed systems and services for real-time analysis, planning and design of the grid network, as well as for overseeing and maintaining the grid.
Today, with the help of AI, we predict and calculate the state of the grid. We use sensor data to forecast capacity issues and suggest how to solve them by using local flexibility, for example by using batteries, or by changing consumption or production patterns to avoid not only outages but also huge investments in the grid.
In order to support cheaper, more reliable distribution, developing solutions for stable storage of renewable energy is also very important.
In the green transition, DSOs are learning how to store energy when there is an opportunity for this somewhere on the network. This will happen even more easily with the introduction of volatile, but sorely needed renewable sources of energy. ADMS (Advanced Distribution Management Systems) can help DSOs cope with such situations.
V2Gs (vehicle-to-grid) have the ability to feed back into the grid, and will be a fantastic option for the DSOs as a provider of flexibility that can help reduce the need for grid investments.
Such an option could save money, time and reputation for DSOs. What is more, if the flexibility of the market can be improved, private households will be able to sell surplus energy from their green chargeable stations – car batteries, roof-top solar panels, and other facilities. Components such as PV and heat pumps offer more flexibility in this respect. The options are numerous and exciting.
As the world’s attention focuses on urgent environmental problems, powerful solutions are being developed – including by Volue – to engage consumers in the distribution of energy, following the example in countries such as the UK. This will turn the consumer into a prosumer. Consumers will be participating in the charging and sharing of a multitude of local batteries and will be financially rewarded for their contribution to the power grid.
But change doesn’t happen overnight. It starts with small steps. This is why, when we work with DSOs, we integrate our technology using interfaces the DSOs already use or that are standardised. Our proven, data-driven technology is intuitive and easy to use. It secures energy distribution during faults, overload or power shortages but also saves money.
The road ahead for DSOs
Tradition still occupies a large place in the functioning of DSOs. Ultimately, if they don’t modernise their systems, they may start losing more money than they make. In addition, the communities that these DSOs serve will be affected negatively.
The drive for successful distribution and storage of renewable energy has already started. In the green transition, DSOs are expected to deliver on the security of supply, efficiency, and customer satisfaction; as well as on security itself – not allowing hackers to affect operations.
The good news is that DSOs have nothing to fear about the future. All they need is the right portfolio of software solutions.
Interview and editing by Theodora Broyd.