Power and renewables

How to tackle digitalization in a smart way

How to tackle digitalization

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Christopher Wiig

Christopher Wiig

Business Director Digital Grid Operations

Prepare yourself to understand what you want your businesses to be in the future.

A friend of mine who works for a power utility called me a couple of weeks ago and challenged me with two “simple” questions related to digitalization and grid operations in the energy sector:

  1. How will my business change with digitalization?
  2. What should I do now?

Even though questions like this have formed part of my work for many years, I started with a quick search on the internet. A Google search on “Digital” provided 7.3 billion hits. “Digital Grid Operation” presented 88 million hits. The combination of “digital + energy” provided 2.2 billion hits. So obviously, there is no easy answer or quick fix available if the topic is new to you.

Having worked with vendors, contractors and utilities along the smart energy value chain for more than 20 years, I have witnessed an interesting development in the marketplace. The main challenges and issues that I frequently see businesses struggle with are:

  • Exploring and understanding the potential of new digital building blocks
  • Carving out the strategies to make “the new thing” happen
  • Evaluating and deciding on the best technology and solutions
  • Realizing the realize benefits of digitalization and making it work for them


Smart Digitalization 

If I were to distill what is happening in the marketplace now in two words, it would be: Smart Digitalization.

Amazingly, I find that the questions we grapple with today are the same as they were 25 years ago. “What does digitalization mean to me”, “how can digitalization bring value”, “how can the legislation guide me”? In other words – the challenge we all face is: How can we prepare and take the right steps to become digital and realize the benefits from the solutions and applications we implement?

My starting point and the advice I always give to customers is to make sure you understand the current situation and have analyzed future scenarios. Too often, I meet a mindset that new technology is the aim and supposed to solve all problems.

Now let’s go back to answer the questions from my friend.


1. How will my business change with digitalization? 

Technology is not the end, it’s the start. Technology is an enabler and starting point for change. But you will eventually have to empower the organization to realize any improvements. More information will become available with digitalization and this enables you to create your platform and starting point for changes or improvements.

Digitalization is often pushed forward to solve both existing and future challenges. At the same time digitalization is expected to help developing (energy) markets. To achieve this, digitalization will eventually force you to develop and standardize data models which support more frequent and closer to real time data exchange and insights. The Common Information Model (CIM) from IEC will be key for digitizing the energy sector.

Unlocking benefits using digitalization will become more important. I have worked with numerous utilities to better understand their work processes. By understanding business process, it is possible to translate this insight into how ways of working can be improved with digital tools. Those principles are not new, but the expected impact from digitalization is now greater.

Digitalization can help you to organize your business better. It can help you make improved decisions based on better and more accurate information and reduce parallel work to allow you to integrate (many) more digital platforms, while also helping your business to become more transparent and compliant.

In short, digitalization is a journey that starts, but that will not end.

So, how will my business change? My conclusion is that we need to prepare for new business models in the future, today! We should investigate different scenarios and their implications.


2. What should I do now? 

Prepare yourself to understand what you want your businesses to be in the future.

As we speak, smart digital solutions have been deployed globally. The energy sector collects granular consumption data, in-field sensor data and alarms, status updates and power quality data in high volumes – all digital information. Today, this happens from high voltage levels down to the consumer at a distribution level. In Norway, a country with 2.8 million metering points, close to 70 million measurements/consumption values will be collected and stored every 24 hours. This equals 24,5 billion data entries from the distribution level only – every year. In addition, field alarms and status updates from the consumer field.

With such detailed information and vast data volumes at hand the question is – how can we make the data valuable? The answer lies with digitalization. With Smart Digitalization it is possible to explore how data can help your business to improve in all operational areas.

Business models will change in the future (and have changed over the last 10-20 years). How you will engage with the customer/consumer/prosumer in the future, is one area for change. Renewable energy sources like solar and wind, combined with EV and storage will grow further, and this will challenge today’s operational schemes and envelopes.

There are no short cuts. The business goals should be linked to your vision and strategy. To define and chose the right technology at the right time is important. But remember, technology is only the enabler, it will support only what you decide it to support. Digitalization can help you– but your insight and efforts in defining what to implement and when are paramount.

At DNV GL we support our customers with technology and solutions to secure interoperability and to increase smooth digital operations. The digital technologies and services we support are smart grid roadmaps, data models and CIM, operational platforms like e.g. SCADA, EMS, ADMS, smart metering and digital substations. We help with testing and conformance testing services related to protocol standards e.g. IEC 61850, IEC 62056, IEC 62351, all important protocols to make smart grids and digitalization work seamlessly. In addition, we support the important aspects of IT/OT discussions and cyber security.

To find out more about how we can help you tackle digitalization in a smart way, get in touch.

Contact us:

Christopher Wiig

Christopher Wiig

Business Director Digital Grid Operations