Shifting to a Digital Grid Forces System-Wide Grid Modernization

Shifting to a Digital Grid Forces System-Wide Grid Modernization

Friday, April 14, 2017 - 11:10am

CAMPAIGN: Smart City/Smart Utility

CONTENT: Article

We are at the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, defined by its velocity and volume, scope and scale, and systems impact. The foundation of this new era is squarely built upon the success of the "digital grid." The first three revolutions—defined by the introduction of steam and mechanization, electricity and computing, respectively—all had profound societal impacts, but they lacked the exponential rate of technological breakthroughs and complexity that define the fourth.

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Today, grid modernization defines the fourth revolution. Modernization—defined by a holistic disruption of all aspects of the energy landscape—will involve three paradigms that will provide clarity to achieving an effective grid optimization strategy:

Systems Thinking

The basis of systems thinking is that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. From this viewpoint, it can be seen that the relationships or connections that define the digital grid drive the true value of the system. From here it becomes clear that the objective of the system is not dependent on what those parts are, as much as what they can achieve together.

Managing Complexity

When managing complexity, the crux of the problem is not that the technology is unavailable, but the task can become daunting when trying to implement at scale. When implementing grid modernization, the priority must be managing complexity and volatility.

Service Orientation

Service-oriented architecture has emerged as a new value stream, from software structure to the business model, from governance to policy. Services are the capitalization of the other two paradigms and provide the basis for the valuation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and our digital grid.