Despite the current low levels of deployment, edge computing technology integration is inevitable as the grid transforms into an intelligent neural grid, bringing with it dramatic improvements to overall grid performance.
“Today, we estimate that less than 10% of the distribution network is automated and instrumented beyond basic SCADA systems,” Hartnack said. “However, the integration of distributed energy resources (DER), the increase in customer demand for grid reliability and stability, and recent advances in grid technology are driving utilities and grid operators to equip their distribution networks with monitoring, automation, and control equipment.”
Guidehouse Insights expects edge computing platforms to be centered around four key technologies: distribution automation (DA), volt VAR optimization (VVO), advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), and smart inverters. Each of these applications enables intelligent grid edge assets to collect data, analyze data, and act based on the results of the analysis—all without involving any centralized IT system or requiring advanced communications networks.
Hartnack explained that the advantages of increased deployments of these technologies are tremendous and include efficiency gains in the DER network, demand side management and energy efficiency program benefits, workforce requirement reductions, communications congestion alleviation, and asset management benefits.
“Although edge computing is a small part of the overall distribution automation and controls market, it spans the entire distribution network—from the substations, to and through the meters, and onto DER networks, microgrids, and distributed generation,” he said.
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