The energy sector is undergoing a profound and extensive transformation. This is due, firstly, to the Energy Transition with its origin in the fight against climate change and, secondly, to the digital transformation that affects all areas and sectors of the economy and society.
When we talk about the digitalisation of electricity grids, we are referring to the application of digital and communication technology in electricity generation, transmission, distribution and consumption systems. This digitisation process aims to improve the efficiency, safety and sustainability of the electricity infrastructure.
Currently in Spain, thanks to the deployment of smart meters, many distributors are already using big data techniques and machine learning algorithms in their central systems. In the case of the European Union, this deployment has not been uniform. While in Germany they have not yet been installed, in Italy they are already in the second deployment of these meters, which are equipped with new functionalities.
What are some of the key features of digitised electricity grids?
- Installation of smart meters in homes and businesses to collect accurate data on energy consumption.
- Automation systems that enable remote monitoring and control of grid components such as transformers and circuit breakers. This facilitates the detection and diagnosis of faults, as well as the rapid restoration of power supply in the event of outages.
- Digitised grids can more effectively integrate renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, as they enable more accurate management of energy generation and storage.
- Challenges in terms of cyber security, where it is essential to implement robust protection measures to prevent potential cyberattacks and ensure the integrity and reliability of the grid.
As we can see, digitalisation has significant benefits for distribution companies, in the form of reduced operating costs, but also for end consumers and society. However, the costs associated with digitisation should not be underestimated. Therefore, this process has to take place in a progressive and guided manner.