Step-Forward to Digital Transformation by Embracing Cloud in Energy Sector

Energy Transformation

The energy sector is transforming by adopting cloud computing, from the way suppliers generate energy to interact with customers. Energy companies encountered several challenges including reduced operational and maintenance cost to optimize productivity and asset utilization, as well as provide flexibility and agility to respond to changing consumer demands and industry standards through vertical integration. To overcome this, it must not only adopt advanced technologies but also restructure the business models to include client engagement at their core.

Many utility companies are shifting towards smart grid technologies. To provide seamless transition to energy sector, there is a need for an incorporated approach for managing the generation, transmission, and distribution segments. Cloud computing has shown optimistic results in promoting the transition by improving customer experience, enabling predictive maintenance, improving collaboration, reducing ecological cost, increasing asset efficiency, and maintaining a reliable grid. The innovation of electric grids and automated meter infrastructure has opened up new opportunities for utilities, by providing access to real-time data as well as assisting in managing the demand-supply gap, and also providing incentives for promoting energy efficiencies.

Furthermore, upgrading and maintaining the existing infrastructure utilities necessitate advanced asset analytics for delivering favorable performance. According to the industry estimates, in 2025 the global smart grid market as a cloud-based software and data services market will reach to $6 billion.

The cloud computing has numerous advantages. Cloud can assist both the consumer and the utilities in monitoring the accurate data consumption, and this information is easily accessible through mobiles and laptops. Deploying the existing framework to the cloud reduces server configuration and data storage, which reduces the cost. Scalability and collaboration can be used in positioning new services swiftly and with no extra expenditure. Cloud solution vendors provide compensation price. As a result, utilities manage both capital expenditure (CAPEX)/ operating expenses (OPEX) costs as they only pay only for what is utilized. Cloud solutions can assist staff in fixing and detecting issues in real-time in case of break down or outage.

Privatization has increased competition in the electricity sector and put pressure on companies to expand the consumer base as it is using cloud computing to improve operational efficiency and gain consumer satisfaction.

Despite the benefits of cloud computing, several energy companies are still apprehensive to use cloud for critical operations such as grid management and outage management. Cyber security and data privacy are the major obstacles in adopting the cloud according to some of the energy companies.

The energy and utility sectors are still apprehensive about technological development as the cloud may be confined to network capabilities and server configurations. Hence, utilities cannot risk server failure while handling critical grid operations, controlling grid or real-time readings from field sensors, and processing customer meter data.

Energy sector is also focused on quantum computing, that helps in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the improvement of energy efficiency. Moreover, a German-based start-up, JOS Quantum, develops cloud-based solutions for energy asset management that address complex energy sector concerns involving risk analysis and portfolio optimization. A U.S.-based start-up, QC Ware , offers quantum computing solutions for energy optimization.

On the basis of implementation of global digital technologies to all power plants and network infrastructure, the digitally-enabled measures might save up to $80 billion per year by 2040, or 5% of total annual power generating expenses.

Source: IEA

However, as the technology develops, experts claim that energy and utility companies are expected to migrate to the cloud and adopt the cloud approach to accelerate the IT development in the energy sector.

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