Frederic Dubois is a senior product manager at 1898 & Co., part of Burns & McDonnell. In his role, he helps utilities identify innovative solutions to optimize daily operations.
Edge intelligence is at the cutting edge in technology innovation for power utilities. Gleaning this data can increase real-time response and visibility into a utility’s system to draw more insights from the network’s edge. Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) helps to offer real-time data to empower both consumers and utilities to reduce their carbon footprints and have more insights into outages and energy usage.
The evolution of communications, metering and computing technology has been ongoing since its start in the 1970s. The edge intelligence pre-modern era was marked from 1970 to 2010, with the modern era ushered in with the introduction of AMI 1.0. AMI 2.0, a powerful edge-computing network, is the latest in the industry, providing further insights for power utilities.
AMI 1.0 was originally implemented between 2000 and 2010 with the installation of meters to measure and remotely report energy usage. AMI 2.0 marks the second wave as much of the AMI 1.0 infrastructure is reaching the end of its life expectancy. AMI 2.0 enables more advanced use cases due to its more granular measurement capabilities and computing power on the device, allowing for quick decisions to be made locally.
Prior to AMI, utility workers would have to manually check meters. Remote reading was made possible by AMI 1.0. This technology provides the option to not have people out in the field, saving utilities both time and money. Additionally, information can be gathered regularly, at regular sub-hour intervals, and data can be distinguished between loads and energy generation.
Modern advanced edge intelligence technology was made possible by increased computing power and bandwidth that are now needed to address today’s challenges. The modern era relies on remote sensing with two-way communication. The technology is no longer reactive, but the meters can proactively communicate the status of infrastructure and can be reprogrammed to meet future utility demands.
The innovations found in the advanced distribution management system (ADMS) are part of this modern era. In the next generation, ADMS would evolve with more distributed energy resources management System (DERMS) functionality, which includes increased control of distributed energy resources (DER). The surge of smart homes and electric vehicles, as well as smart electric vehicle chargers and photovoltaic inverters, now has had ADMS move to the end customer realm. From manual processes to streamlined automation in homes, the industry has quickly evolved over the past five years.
The rise in net zero initiatives has also created a need for decentralized and non-dispatchable energy sources. Energy storage advancements and demand response capabilities have helped provide greater insight in how to meet the demand.
AMI 2.0 also gives greater insight into fault characterizations and provides for potentially more accurate outage locating. Edge intelligence produces more granular information and increases real-time visibility. With so much complex data, utilities can react to faults more quickly and efficiently.
Cybersecurity will have to be considered when it comes to edge intelligence. The exposure of these complex systems can pose a risk and require in-depth cybersecurity measures to maintain secure operations. The cost of communications, network infrastructure upgrades and expansions will also need to be accounted for when it comes to examining the network.
But even amid such challenges, the benefits generated by edge intelligence are significant. With greater awareness into infrastructure challenges, outages can be resolved faster. And efficiency and a smaller carbon footprint can be promoted.