Four Power Industry Trends for 2021
The past year has undoubtedly brought unprecedented industry challenges. Power and utility companies have tackled these issues head on to ensure grid performance during a time where reliability is needed most.
As we embrace 2021, even amidst the ongoing uncertainty, there are several opportunities and technological advancements awaiting industry leaders.
Here’s where to focus for the biggest impact:
1. The use of Scientific Machine Learning for transformer diagnostics is growing in popularity.
SciML, which takes the best of available analysis tools and ML systems, combined with scientific knowledge to make actionable decisions, will become more widespread this year. Over the last several years, engineers have been pursuing the idea of leveraging AI and ML systems to provide detailed assessment of power transformers, by combining available maintenance, history, test data, monitoring data, fault data, etc. However, in practice, engineers often run into incomplete, missing or inconsistent data, which hinders the ability of AI tools to produce accurate outcomes. As a result, engineers are likely to move toward a hybrid approach to leveraging AI, using the tech in cases where data is sound, and allowing subject matter experts to focus on the situations where data is unclear and needs attention.
2. Collaboration among technical and financial folks is becoming key to an asset health index (AHI).
AHIs are regularly used to determine an asset’s condition so that operational data can be used as part of an organization’s financial and operational planning. But oftentimes the financial and operational folks involved in analyzing the AHI results for planning purposes don’t fully understand the technical information used to derive an AHI and therefore may not be making the most informed decisions. In order to be effective in managing assets, there needs to be clear and meaningful communication between the technical and financial folks, and both sides need to understand the value and the limitations of AHI, as well as how it should be used.
3. Engineers are taking more analytical and predictive approaches to maintenance.
Identifying equipment worthy of further attention or intervention can be challenging. But there’s opportunity to leverage the latest in statistical analyses and predictive intelligence to augment traditional approaches. For example, when it comes to identifying bushings in need of intervention, by combining a large population of results with Doble’s database of more than six million individual test results, statistical analyses can provide an actionable standard deviation between test results and a benchmark value. This way, engineers can more easily interpret test results and conduct appropriate maintenance by having a better sense of how the results compare to the “norm.” And in 2021, organizations will increasingly leverage AI and other emerging tech to more proactively target health and maintenance activity.
4. AI adoption is growing across the power and utility industry – albeit cautiously.
Adopting AI and ML technology requires organizations to look beyond the hype and apparent success of the platforms and stay skeptical of grand claims. When looking into ML/AI systems, organizations should set reasonable expectations from the onset and look for transparency and logic, while ensuring that safety is at the forefront. After all, any AI or ML algorithm could potentially act in unexpected ways, and if the algorithms are not clear and transparent, the reasons for unusual performance may be impossible to identify and correct. As AI adoption grows this year, engineers will be careful to identify any limitations and consequences of the tech before implementing in power grid applications.
2020 heightened the value of information, communication, and preparedness, with technology at the forefront. As such, strategic use of AI and ML and more collaborative and proactive approaches to maintenance will be priorities for many organizations this year. The investments power and utility companies make in these areas today will boost the overall resiliency of the grid and shape the evolution of the industry for years to come.
- Transformer Solutions
- Asset Health Management
- Successful application of AI techniques: A hybrid approach