Transmission and distribution kept from global energy transition

12:13 | 19/02/2020
Barriers in implementing vital digitalisation measures in the transmission and distribution industry could hold back the success of the global energy transition.
transmission and distribution kept from global energy transition
Stakeholders in the T&D industry are fully aware of the perceived benefits of digitalisation

This is just one of the findings from a new DNV GL report entitled Digitalisation and the future of power grids which surveyed nearly 2,000 engineers and senior executives from startups to large corporations in the energy sector.

Despite the ongoing transformation in the power industry towards the integration of digital tools and systems, just over half (52 per cent) of distribution network operators (DNOs) have digitalisation as a core part of their publicly-stated strategy, this falls to 39 per cent for transmission system operators (TSOs).

One-third of the T&D industry considers itself less advanced than the wider energy industry in its current application of digitalisation.

One-third of the T&D industry considers itself less advanced than the wider energy industry in its current application of digitalisation.

Nonetheless, stakeholders in the T&D industry are fully aware of the perceived benefits of digitalisation with transmission system and distribution network operators listing the following top three digital technologies as making an impact on their industry: Cybersecurity (76 per cent of TSOs versus 67 per cent DNOs); data visualisation (67 per cent of TSOs versus 71 per cent of DNOs); and automation and digital workflow (73 per cent of TSOs versus 68 per cent of DNOs).

Despite low levels of strategic focus on digitalisation in the industry, the survey reveals that T&D stakeholders are heavily focused on including additional digital skillsets into their workforce.

67 per cent of respondents highlighted a need for employees with combined data and domain expertise, which comes as no surprise in an industry where IT skills have traditionally been separated from electrical power systems expertise.

When questioned about which skills would be most important for the industry, the understanding and application of Internet of Things (IoT) systems (48 per cent), data science (47 per cent), and big data analytics (41 per cent) were cited as the most sought-after competencies by the T&D industry.

“Our survey also shows that 40 per cent of T&D stakeholders believe that a lack of digital mindset is a barrier within their organisation, which is defined as a lack of staff engagement with digitalisation. This reveals that although the technology and ambition might be there, unless organisations can concentrate on the efforts of their entire workforce towards the adoption of new technologies and harvesting the opportunities provided by big data and enhanced connectivity, the impact of digitalisation will be limited,” said Lucy Craig, vice president of Technology and Innovation at DNV GL – Energy.

“The role that the T&D industry needs to play in making the energy transition a success cannot be overestimated, which is why we call on organisations to invest in digital skills training to equip their employees with the necessary competences to tackle the challenges the T&D industry is facing," Craig noted.

A global quality assurance and risk management company, DNV GL provides certification, supply chain and data management services to customers across a wide range of industries. Operating in more than 100 countries, the company’s experts are dedicated to helping customers make the world safer, smarter, and greener.

By Dinh Thuy

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