The last time you visited the doctor, they likely took your pulse. They monitored your heartbeat for thirty seconds…they didn’t measure your heartbeat one time when you arrived, and once as you departed 1 hour later. Why? Because meaningful data about your heart is concluded by measuring the rate of each beat.
In a similar manner, substation monitoring and endpoint meters capture the heartbeat of the grid at its beginning and end, but the pulse of the grid itself is not accurately captured.
To this end, intra-grid sensors have emerged. Their purpose is to be cost-effectively inserted throughout the distribution space, then routinely capture and report the pulse of the grid. In essence, intra-grid sensors are applied to the heart of the grid to reveal timely and accurate information that utilities otherwise cannot access. No area of the grid is more dynamic and ever-changing than this space.
Attention to the emerging sensor market is growing. Several industry watchdogs have noted the importance and growing value of grid sensors. A recent article reported the sensor market will grow at a 36% annual rate through 2021, burgeoning into a $350Million per year industry. There are several providers within this emerging space, and collectively they will contribute a powerful boost to the global electric industry’s quest for a smart grid.
One intra-grid sensor provider has already delivered more than 10 million data reads to its growing utility customer base. And, with the evolution of emerging analytics, this same provider will be introducing services for utility operators whereby alarms and alerts will signal points and sections of grid concern. In fact, alarms and alerts will promptly flag utility operators of anomalies, allowing for proactive attention, and accelerated remediation.
Extracting data is tremendously important to global utilities now struggling with the dichotomous effects of aging infrastructure coupled with increased performance expectations by rate payers. Utilities are caught in a tough position, and intra-grid sensors will help to relieve this pressure.
With variable polling rates, multiple communications options, and highly accurate sensing technology, price point effective intra-grid sensors will lessen costly power outages, reduce expensive truck rolls, enable conservation voltage reduction, proactively locate failing transformers, identify power theft, and assist in vital grid stabilization and safety as renewable energy is being driven back into the grid from solar rooftop and wind sources.
In the near term, sensor providers will master the practice of distilling intra-grid data so that operators are quickly notified of data that falls outside their utility-defined tolerances. This evolution of sensors represents the final foundational step in the pursuit of smart grid achievement. Once data is properly combined from substations, endpoint meters and now the intra-grid sensors, rate payers will begin to see the smart grid benefits that utilities have been justifiably pursuing for years. While the global electric infrastructure is indeed old, it is too expensive to perform wholesale upgrades. Given this fact, it is imperative that utilities employ a smart grid solution to increase their management capabilities.
We all rely on electricity to support our daily lives. Without electricity for any measurable period, we all feel the negative effects. Electricity is no longer an amenity, it is truly a staple to everyday life.