In a landscape where electric utilities grapple with unprecedented challenges, the imperative to innovate and adapt has never been more pressing. The road to transformation lies in the realm of data-driven operations and automation. It demands solutions that not only harness the power of data, but also make it easily accessible to all users, from generalists and specialists within the company, to external partners and towards customers. Jens Dalsgaard, Principle Product Owner, Power Grid, Volue, takes up the third in our article series below.
10 jan. 2024
In our previous story, 'Navigating the Digital Frontier: Unleashing the Power of Digital Twins with Volue's Expertise', we explored the crucial role of the digital twin, its definition, and how Volue excels in delivering best-in-class migrations to ArcGIS Utility Network. Before we journey deeper into the world of SaaS-based grid calculation capabilities, we encourage you to revisit these foundational insights. Understanding the digital twin and migration excellence will enrich your perspective as we embark on the next phase of innovation and transformation.
In a landscape where electric utilities grapple with unprecedented challenges, the imperative to innovate and adapt has never been more pressing. The road to transformation lies in the realm of data-driven operations and automation. It demands solutions that not only harness the power of data, but also make it easily accessible to all users, from generalists and specialists within the company, to external partners and towards customers.
As we've emphasised before, at the heart of this transformative journey is the digital twin of the grid. However, the true catalyst for change lies in adopting a service-based architecture that extends its reach far beyond the boundaries of the utility itself.
In this paradigm, everyone, everywhere, armed with proper authentication, gains seamless access to critical data and the capabilities to drive business processes forward. It's a vision of inclusivity and empowerment and has fuelled Volue's groundbreaking SaaS-based grid calculation support.
Grid calculations are the backbone of modern grid development. Whether it's evaluating the grid's readiness for new loads, such as EV-chargers and rooftop solar, or assessing planned grid changes, these calculations play a pivotal role. Moreover, in everyday operations, they are instrumental in verifying circuit capacity for additional loads.
Historically, advanced analyses for grid development have been the domain of specialists, often requiring dedicated software and extensive training. This approach has inevitably led to slow and cumbersome processes. With ever more changes to the grid, the burden on these few specialists becomes heavier. It is an approach that won’t scale. Simple calculations must be available to the generalist users, allowing the specialists to devote their time to the complex needs.
Grid calculations, an everyday necessity in a utility, exemplify a broader challenge. Volue’s SaaS solutions will provide a broad portfolio of tools and modules to support core utility workflows.
The rapid electrification of our societies and the accompanying myriad of grid changes and new connections have rendered the old ways of working unsustainable. Simply put, the solution cannot be to hire more and more specialists. Instead, we must embark on a path that makes our processes more efficient and our IT-solutions more accessible.
By embracing a paradigm of democratisation—offering access to everyone through a service-based architecture and user-friendly GUIs—we are reshaping this landscape.
Now, the answers provided by grid calculations are within reach for anyone who requires them. This inclusive approach not only accelerates decision-making but also liberates our specialist workforce from routine calculations. With new-found time and focus, they can address more complex and strategic challenges, propelling our industry forward.
With an unwavering commitment to simplifying and automating the entire process, Grid Calculator ushers in a new era of efficiency and accessibility. Effortlessly sourcing grid data from ArcGIS Utility Network or a similarly structured documentation source, it seamlessly integrates with load / production data from different sources. It also provides the ability to calculate and compare multiple operational scenarios.
Driven by automation, it performs crucial grid calculations such as load flow and short circuit analysis, and follows up with intelligent post-processing. This post-processing is a crucial step in ensuring that end-users are presented with only the most sought for information, given them what they need to make their decisions. No more need to sift through overwhelming amounts of data. Furthermore, it goes beyond mere filtering; it conducts an analysis, drawing from both calculation results and core grid data, to determine the optimal strategies for safeguarding downstream cables and overhead lines from overloading and potential damage during failure, particularly in the case of short circuits.
Grid Calculator empowers users through clarity. Our intuitive interface ensures that grid calculation results are easily understood by everyone, unlocking actionable insights for your team.
The democratisation and the provision of an intuitive, universally accessible user experience represent just the initial phase of our strategy. By offering Grid Calculator as a service (SaaS), we are ushering in an era where calculations can be seamlessly executed, without the user working in a specialised interface.
This transforms Grid Calculator into a versatile building block within a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), promoting the concept of creating discrete, self-contained services that can be effortlessly integrated into multiple applications or platforms.
In this context, any component within a comprehensive IT architecture can swiftly and effectively request calculations by simply accessing the Grid Calculator service. No longer a need to develop these core functions from scratch within a new context.
Through these initiatives, we are diligently constructing the foundational elements of a flexible IT solution portfolio, meticulously designed to meet the formidable challenges facing the electric distribution industry.
Elvia, Norway’s largest electric utility serving one million meter points, and Volue have a strategic collaboration on the development of Grid Calculator.
As stated by Vegard Høynes, project manager at Elvia:
“For Elvia the modular architecture and the access to the backend APIs that Grid Calculator provides is a non-negotiable feature.
“The APIs provide Elvia with a flexibility on where they incorporate and take advantage of grid calculations. And Elvia can look at such options in parallel with the development of the user-centric implementation of Grid Calculator product, because Volue has an API first strategy and share the backend APIs while they are under development. Elvia can also proceed and start our non-functional testing, ensuring that security and scalability is in place.”
It lets Elvia trigger Grid Calculations from other applications or platforms than the traditional and specialised calculation software, and it will enable an automation of workflows that earlier included cumbersome grid calculations in heavier and specialised software.
In our fourth post, 'Enhancing Grid Connection Processes through Automation ', we venture into Volue’s innovative SaaS solution ‘Automated Grid Connection’, streamlining the process of assessing grid feasibility, enabling customer dialogue, and processing payments thus empowering the data driven business operation. As we continue to redefine the future of utilities, this next chapter is not to be missed.