The value of a connected data ecosystem: Why data sharing will transform the power industry

Posted: October 04, 2023

The power industry is changing at a rapid pace, and with that change comes new challenges. From market fluctuations to integrating more renewables into the grid, power companies must overcome substantial pressures, all while keeping the lights on. Now, real-time data sharing has emerged as a pinnacle solution that is connecting key stakeholders to enable better, faster, and deeper insights so the power industry can deliver more resilient, sustainable power.

Recently, I sat down with Douglas Nunez, power industry marketing manager here at AVEVA, to talk about the current trends in the power industry and dive deeper into the importance of creating real-time data communities and why it’s critical for future success.

The current state of the power industry

Daniel: What are the current trends in the power industry that highlight the role data sharing plays in driving success?

Douglas: 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 who 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 using AVEVA™ Data Hub comes in.

Powered by connected data ecosystems

Daniel: Could you elaborate on the significance of data sharing and connected data ecosystems within the power sector? How do they contribute to operational efficiency and innovation?

Douglas: Within the power industry, there are many areas where AVEVA Data Hub, available through our industrial cloud platform, AVEVA Connect, 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, more modern way can improve the bottom line. By sharing aggregated data securely with ecosystem partners, companies can build stronger, more connected networks with data available through data science applications providing machine learning, AI, and predictive analytics for improved efficiency and innovation.

The challenge of external data sharing

Daniel: What obstacles do companies in the power industry typically encounter when it comes to sharing data externally? How can these challenges be overcome to facilitate effective data sharing?

Douglas: It’s increasingly common for power companies to invest in assets in geographically dispersed locations. Having a system that can tear down these barriers and provide a single source of truth is very important. However, sharing data with internal and external stakeholders takes time and can be costly. A cloud-native 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.

It’s also important to keep security in mind. Power utilities must comply with standards and guidelines to keep the power grid secure. Power companies have critical real-time data that they need to keep secure, which is why they’re turning to secure cloud-native technologies like AVEVA 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.

Getting started with a connected data ecosystem

Daniel: For companies looking to establish their data ecosystems, what would be the recommended entry point? How can they start building a robust framework for sharing data both within and outside the organization?

Douglas: As the amount of available data increases, power plant operators, fleet, and grid managers have access to billions of signals. Increasingly, they are analyzing this data to make faster and more informed decisions that drive resilience, agility, and profitability. To maximize the value of data, an infrastructure framework that can manage increasingly complex data in a secure and scalable way is the essential foundation. Before it is used internally or shared with external stakeholders, data needs to be collected, cleansed, and archived, without interfering with daily operations.

The future of the power industry

Daniel: As we look to the future, what is your perspective on the evolution of the power industry? How do you envision data sharing and interconnectedness shaping its trajectory?

Douglas: The power 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.

Connected data communities are the future of the power industry.

For a deeper dive into the benefits of real-time data-sharing read our latest white paper, “The information sharing ecosystem”.

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