AVEVA Data Hub in the power generation industry: Orchestrating assets to deliver an essential service

An interview with AVEVA Energy Industry Principals, David Thomason and William McEvoy

Posted: February 15, 2022

As more power generation companies seek to take advantage of new technologies like advanced data analytics and remote monitoring, they are increasingly exploring cloud-based data management solutions like AVEVA Data Hub. AVEVA’s Lora O’Haver recently sat down with AVEVA Energy Industry Principals, David Thomason and William McEvoy, to discuss how this is manifesting in the industry.

What trends are you seeing in the energy industry where data management has a role to play?

David Thomason: Power generation companies are progressing from saying, “I want to see the real-time health of my asset” to asking, “How do we share energy data with stakeholders outside our company?” Companies not only want to capture and share real-time data, but also integrate that data with other relevant information to create valuable business insight. So, they’re looking at data like market pricing, weather data, fuel pricing, demand forecasting, and more when determining how to run their plants and supply the grid. Power generators are always orchestrating this interplay of energy sources to ensure we keep the lights turned on.

Within the world of renewable energies, many of the people that own and invest in the assets don’t actually operate them. So, the owners will expect to see some critical operations data and reports. That's another area where secure data sharing through AVEVA Data Hub comes in.

Could you talk about the value of data aggregation?

David Thomason: Within the energy industry, there are very many areas where AVEVA Data Hub will play a critical role. For example, with the implementation of many distributed energy resources (DERs), you have a vast amount of smaller generation sites—as opposed to having only large plants—and having a way to collect all the information, aggregate that information out of multiple sites in a new, and more modern, way can improve the bottom line. By having aggregated data, companies can then share it with ecosystem partners, or make it available for data science applications, such as machine learning, AI, and predictive analytics.

What are the implications for software-as-a-service?

David Thomason: Previously, the industry looked different. In the past, you might have had three large utilities in your area for power generation. And those three main companies had sophisticated IT infrastructure and staff dedicated to data management and security. Well, today, the power generation landscape is more complex. You typically have multiple players in an area—multiple power generators, solar companies, wind companies, and battery companies. Many of these companies are start-ups or own a limited number of assets. They don’t have extensive IT infrastructure or staff and don’t have a secure model to share information easily. That’s where AVEVA Data Hub comes into play. Data Hub is a fully managed data software-as-a-service. Companies don’t need to invest in IT infrastructure and hire people to maintain it because AVEVA will manage the hub for you. With AVEVA Data Hub, you get a data management solution built and maintained by experts in industrial data management and hosted on AVEVA’s secure cloud infrastructure.

What are the benefits of a cloud-based Data Hub for companies that hire third-party operations staff?

David Thomason: It’s increasingly common for big energy companies to invest in assets in other parts of the world. They're not entirely local like they used to be, and so they're hiring more and more third-party operations and maintenance (O&M) suppliers. Sharing data with service providers takes time and can be costly. A cloud-based data management solution lets you give access to authorized individuals with a web browser over the internet. No need to set up a costly virtual private network. Secure data sharing helps foster collaboration and build a connected community.

William McEvoy: It’s also important to keep the security piece in mind. Energy companies have critical real-time data that they need to keep secure, which is why they’re turning to secure cloud-based technologies like Data Hub. Today, people are more aware that IT security is complex and expensive and something cloud providers are more qualified to deliver.

There's also sensitivity around who owns this critical data, so we always emphasize that when a company subscribes to AVEVA Data Hub, they still very much own their data.

As we look to the future, what is your outlook for the industry?

David Thomason: The energy industry provides one of the most essential services in the world—delivering electricity. We’re progressing from a world where all the critical data servers and systems on-premises are moving to a hybrid-cloud environment. Companies are realizing that there are advantages to keeping certain data and processes on-premises and using the cloud to increase scalability and flexibility for others. In the long run, we expect most everything will move to the cloud.

Some companies will make the move quicker than others based on their location and the rules governing data protection in their country. That's a transition the industry is going to go through.

Learn more about AVEVA Data Hub.


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