Managing Power Grid Complexity: The 5 Biggest Priorities for Utilities in 2024

In today’s distributed energy system, managing power grid complexity is challenging. The rapid growth of Intermittent renewables, rising numbers of prosumers and Distributed Energy Resources (DERs), electrification, and growing demand for power – it’s becoming ever more difficult for utilities to deliver the reliable energy we’ve all come to expect.

But grid operators are often handling these changes with an aging infrastructure that wasn’t built with a distributed energy system in mind. We need a new approach that can manage power grid complexity and ensures the grid will accelerate the energy transition, not hold it back.

Software underpinned with a strong data foundation is key. When energy utilities make this a priority, grid complexity can be effectively managed, providing a resilient power supply even as we shift to cleaner energy.

What is Grid Orchestration and Why is it Critical in 2024?

The energy transition is reshaping utilities’ business model. As renewables and DERs grow exponentially, utilities must manage external assets as well as their own.

Existing grid management tools help operators manage specific areas of the grid. But they don’t offer much coordination across the entire energy system. And it’s this coordination that’s critical in a distributed grid.

In other words, we need to move from grid management to grid orchestration.

How? Through digital orchestration infrastructure.

This brings technology alignment, utilities can achieve end-to-end orchestration across the entire grid ecosystem. And it’s what GridOS has been designed to deliver, moving us closer to fully integrated and flexible grid operations.

With Grid Orchestration, utilities can manage escalating grid complexity in a distributed energy environment.

Here are the 5 biggest priorities for Energy Utilities in 2024.

1. Grid Modernization: Invest for the future in 2024

The shift to renewable power is accelerating, but it needs to go further, faster to meet net zero targets according to IEA Director, Fatih Birol.

An IEA study found that the world must add or replace 80 million km in the grid by 2040 or risk hampering the energy transition, impacting energy security.

Fatih Birol, Executive Director of IEA warned the grid is at risk of becoming a bottleneck (View image).

Preparing the grid for the future means:

  • Integrating and managing more intermittent renewable energy and DERs
  • Accommodating electrification and growing demand for power
  • Planning for an omnidirectional flow of energy in a distributed energy system
  • Viewing energy consumers as partners

Grid modernization is a daunting task, but it’s now a priority. And there are steps utilities can take in 2024 that will help them manage power grid complexity and prepare the power grid for the future.

Grid Modernization Solutions: Steps to take in 2024

By implementing Grid Orchestration Software, utilities can tackle the complex task of balancing a sustainable energy system. Grid operators can leverage real-time data and apply advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).

With grid orchestration software, utilities can manage supply and demand dynamically and tackle the toughest grid modernization challenges, including:

  • Regulating the flow of power across the network, ensuring a resilient and reliable supply, even with a greater share of intermittent renewables
  • Incorporating new renewable resources into the grid
  • Connecting DERs into the grid and managing the omnidirectional flow to and from prosumers
  • Integrating existing systems and solutions into the sustainable energy grid
  • Achieving a unified view of the entire network

2. Build a Resilient Grid. Protect Your Energy Supply Against Extreme Weather

Managing uncertainty is never easy. But in recent years the world has faced an endless catalog of severe weather events. Storms, floods, wildfires, droughts, extreme temperatures – weather events are becoming more intense and more frequent.

The increase in weather events is coinciding with the push to renewables and electrification. This puts enormous pressure on power generation,transmission and the distribution network. Power supply and demand is more unpredictable and harder to manage, impacting power grid resilience.

Steps to take in 2024: Implementing Grid Orchestration Software

Software has become essential in managing the grid. In the past, many solutions have focused on specific areas. In a distributed system with so many variables, Grid Operators need a more coordinated approach.

Grid Orchestration Software offers an intelligent, flexible and integrated software platform.

Grid Orchestration Software harnesses data, putting AI and Machine Learning to work. At its core is a data fabric with modern technologies and methods that allow you to unleash the value of data to transform data into intelligent automation and actionable insights.

By leveraging GridOS applications, both innovative new apps as well as modernized proven apps become composable solutions that are modular, interoperable and flexible. It enables you to optimize grid operations, ensure resilience and a reliable electricity supply, whilst deploying more renewables, DERs and volatile energy services the help accelerate the energy transition.

3. Break down silos. Make Data Accessible

Siloed data makes the complex task of operating a sustainable grid even more challenging. Utilities need a unified view of data across the entire system, from generation to transmission and distribution, including DERs. And they need this data in as close to real time as possible to respond dynamically to changing conditions whilst balancing supply and demand.

This relies on the free flow of data throughout the utility and across the many (and growing) organizations in the energy ecosystem.

When information about energy infrastructure and grid performance, ends up siloed, employees resort to manual workarounds that result in inefficiencies and human error that has an impact on grid resiliency.

Steps to Take in 2024: Make Data Accessible Across the Network

A federated grid data fabric that utilizes effective integration principles offers a modern and future proof solution. It simplifies the complexities of data integration and ensures data quality across the energy ecosystem.

When energy utilities can access data throughout the network, they can achieve real-time, end to end visibility. They can leverage real-time data, advanced analytics, and machine learning, helping them to make better decisions, accelerate innovation, and improve efficiencies.

With a grid data fabric, managing power grid complexity becomes easier. Data and system silos are broken down, operators can use simulations, predictive operations, and automated grid control, ultimately leading to a more reliable energy supply.

4. Automate Grid Processes

    Automation is vital in managing the increased complexity of a sustainable power grid and helps to fast-track utilities’ grid modernization process.

    Today’s digitalized energy grid is fed by distributed data collected from millions of data points. With effective integration, more data sources deliver more enriched data and an improved view of the grid. Grid Operators can make better decisions, even at the near real-time speeds now needed.

    But traditional manual processes struggle to keep pace with today’s data volumes and grid complexity.

    Steps to take in 2024: Coordinate Multiple Automation Processes

    Advanced software solutions enable utilities to react to change in real-time, automatically responding when conditions change. But when solutions are delivered via a comprehensive Grid Orchestration platform, utilities can coordinate multiple automation processes across the network. This helps build efficiencies and delivers a more reliable and resilient service.

    • When it comes to developing a sustainable gird, automation can take over key processes, including:
    • Automating DER scheduling and DER optimization
    • Voltage management
    • Automating Fault Isolation and Service Restoration

    Automation leads to fewer outages and faster restoration times. Utilities can quickly spot issues and deal with them before they cause major disruption for customers. The result? less disruption to customers and a more reliable energy supply.

    5. Protect Your Utility’s Mission Critical Infrastructure

    The energy sector is a prime target for threat actors with cyberattacks on utilities increasing by 118% between 2020 and 2022.

    Day-to-day management relies on data exchange between all nodes of the energy ecosystem, including with consumers and DERs. But this creates a huge array of vulnerabilities ready for cyber criminals to exploit.

    Software applications, sensors, IoT devices, hybrid cloud, APIs - every source bringing data into the utility is a potential risk.

    With a distributed energy model, the traditional approach of guarding the company’s network perimeter no longer works.

    Enter Zero Trust.

    Steps to take in 2024: Build a Zero Trust Environment

    Never trust. Always verify.

    In a Zero Trust model, all users, even those within the utility, are continuously authenticated, authorized, and validated. Access to data and resources is only given when it’s needed by employees to complete a particular task.

    A Zero Trust model assumes everyone and everything is a potential threat. Utility assets and networks are constantly monitored so potential threats or unauthorized activity are quickly identified. The information is used to continuously improve defenses.

    With next generation grid orchestration software like GridOS, a Zero Trust security model is in-built to utility IT architecture.

    Today’s consumers take notice of how businesses look after their data. In 2024 utilities need to become less trusting to become more trustworthy to users and to safeguard critical infrastructure.

    The energy industry is rapidly adjusting to a more sustainable grid. This new model is underpinned by proliferating data points leading to escalating power grid complexity. Key to managing this is effective Grid Orchestration software, supported by a strong data foundation.

    Greenbird’s data integration platform, Utilihive, is now accelerating GE Vernova’s GridOS®. Utilihive is a leading-edge integration platform that’s been developed specifically for utilities. It streamlines data integration cutting deployment times. The Utilihive integration platform works to unlock data silos, enables advanced analytics, and delivers enhanced scalability and flexibility.

    Utilihive synergizes seamlessly with GridOS, boosting its capabilities. GridOS is the world’s first software portfolio designed specifically for grid orchestration, adding new capabilities for connecting systems and integrating data across the grid more easily and at scale.

    Escalating power grid complexity is a challenge for utilities. But managing this complexity also results in a more efficient, modern and resilient grid. There’s a lot to be excited about in 2024.

    About Greenbird by GE Vernova
    Greenbird is an international solution and technology company with roots in Norway. We simplify the complexity of Big Data Integration to help organizations unlock the value of their data and mission critical applications. Our flagship innovation, Utilihive, is a cloud-native platform combining enterprise integration capabilities with a data lake optimized for energy use cases. Greenbird was founded in 2010 with a mission to revolutionize how the energy industry thinks about enterprise system integration. Today, Utilihive is used by utilities across Europe, Middle East and Asia serving more than 50 million consumers. More information about Utilihive is available here.

    GE Vernova acquired Greenbird in August 2023 to accelerate GridOS innovation and help utilities reduce the complexity of energy data integration. For more about GridOS Orchestration Software visit GE Vernova here.