Alex Varshavsky, CEO, Talksum
Last week (March 24-25), I attended the inaugural Energy Thought Summit (ETS) in Austin, TX, to both attend sessions and to moderate the Big Data/Analytics panel. The summit brought the world’s thought leaders together to debate the state and future of energy. Apple co-founder and Fusion-io Chief Scientist Steve Wozniak, who made a dramatic entry on the revolutionary Segway scooter, opened the event with his keynote address.
Sessions included smart grid realization; cyber security; utility of the future; smart cities; energy efficiencies; the smart consumer; grid edge opportunities; standards, policies, and emerging business models; and of course the panel I moderated – Big Data/Analytics.
The Big Data/Analytics panel consisted of the following energy thought leaders:
- Bill Meehan, Esri, Director of Utility Solutions
- Jeff Nichols, San Diego Gas & Electric, Director of Information Security and Management
- Amit Narayan, AutoGrid, CEO
- Larsh Johnson, eMeter (a Siemens Business), CTO & Founder
- Brewster McCracken, Pecan Street Inc., CEO
- Steve Collier, Milsoft Utility Solutions, Director of Smart Grid
I started the panel with a rapid-fire round of a simple, yet provocative question – what is Big Data?
This paved the way for introducing each panelist and their company’s role within the Big Data space as it pertains to the Energy sector.
Next, I followed with the question – where are we going with Big Data, and how do we get there?
Steve brought up distribution fault analysis, which uses algorithms at the device level (PMUs), away from the central site, to intelligently anticipate and prevent difficulties and faults (e.g., outages), rather than react to them.
Amit noted that AutoGrid looks at current data (i.e., minutes old versus a month old). He added to Steve’s thought that we can now anticipate and decide how actions will change a system – the paradigm of predictive control.
Brewster focused on water and how under-used it has been for energy resources and conservation. He mentioned that there has only been one study made in the United States on this subject – and that was 16 years ago! Many states are currently running low on water. He went on to say that a lot of money is currently allocated for this type of energy resource; for example, Texas is investing $1.2 billion in the next five years alone. He also mentioned the importance of distributed solar cells for the grid as a major Big Data target.
Bill sees Big Data within the Energy sector as a way to move from documentation to discovery. Most importantly, silos are breaking down through Big Data technology, and the industry is starting to “connect the dots,” uncovering patterns for making right decisions
According to Larsh, the Smart Meter infrastructure now gives you new insights for making decisions about grid investments – for example, where should additional sensors be located, where should you up-size conductors and transformers, and so on.
I then asked the question – where are we in the timeline for applying Big Data solutions and what is the price for action?
Jeff, who focuses on cyber security, believes that Big Data is the life-blood of the next-generation utility. As energy becomes more distributed with new players, the utility needs to understand what the data tells us at the operations front, the customer front, and the IT/security front. Unless we learn how to do understand that, the future is in question. The price of doing nothing is to become marginalized.
There were more viewpoints, discussions, and debates, including “fantasy applications,” data acquisition for universities, and others.
If you would like to discuss how the TDSR offering could help you in the Energy sector, or if you have any questions about Talksum, let us know by filling out the Talksum contact form.