Human Smart Community: Landis+Gyr Helps Transform the Energy Industry
February 16, 2015
Transformative changes in the energy industry are creating both challenge and opportunity for utilities. Unprecedented demand in worldwide power needs, the introduction of renewable generation resources, and tougher environmental regulations are upsetting conventional business models and forcing power providers to rethink how they manage the power supply and their relationships with customers. “The power utility world used to be very stable, with business and technology cycles lasting decades,” says Andreas Umbach, President and CEO of Landis+Gyr, a Toshiba-owned global industry leader in energy measurement and metering solutions for electricity, gas and water utilities, with a presence in over 30 countries. “Now, these changes are accelerating a very classical industry.”
Improving Grid Operations
The world’s overall energy demand is expected to rise by nearly 40% between now and 2035, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Fortunately, a new era of efficiency and reliability is being made possible through the smart grid, an advanced energy distribution system that is supported by an intelligent communications network. At the heart of the smart grid are thousands of sensors that collect essential data on power output, voltage, flow and consumption— measuring demand, detecting weaknesses, identifying faults and generally automating operations and responses to outages. On the edges are smart meters. When placed in homes and businesses, they can help energy providers and consumers collaborate and better manage peak demand periods, resulting in additional cost efficiencies and savings. This solution is both compelling and essential, which is why utilities in the U.S. alone will invest $4.3 billion in smart metering technology by 2017, according to Frost & Sullivan. “With a smart meter network, you have much more system information available. In the case of an outage, you immediately see it on your screen. You can isolate the area and take actions immediately,” says Umbach. “You’re much better able to properly inform your customers. You can distribute text messages with status information and actions to take. This is a just a small example of what you can do when that information is available, something most utilities cannot do today.” This intelligent approach to the grid is part and parcel of Toshiba’s overall product philosophy of Human Smart Community powered by lifenology. “It is all about energy efficiency,” says Umbach. “We’re not promoting technology or selling technology for its own sake, but for the benefit of people and society.”
Together with Landis+Gyr, a Toshiba-owned global industry leader in energy measurement and metering solutions for utilities, Toshiba will realize the Human Smart Community.
Transforming Load Management
Umbach points out that the most environmentally friendly and cheapest power source is the elimination or postponement of a load—the consumption of power at any given time. “Rather than optimizing the network for the highest expected demand peak, we try to postpone the excess demand through technology,” he explains. “This can be managed better than ever before through consumer-oriented demand response programs, which are made possible by smart meters in homes and businesses that offer two-way communication and automation. In the past, the utility would send a reader by the meter once a month and just capture one value. Now we’re measuring in 15-minute intervals, and we have a thousandfold amount of data available. Consequently, utilities can profile consumers to better understand what the needs are in terms of electricity, and most importantly its timing. “When the pool pump stops for half an hour, to most consumers it may be irrelevant, but if you aggregate thousands of pool pumps to stop at the same point in time, you are postponing demand, and doing that represents a big opportunity to take out bottlenecks in the performance of the grid,” he adds.
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This article was first published on forbes.com.