Renewable and distributed energy resources continue to grow at a steady pace. As a result, utilities and power asset owners and operators are grappling with the ability to manage all the new clean technologies coming online in addition to re-evaluating traditional asset management practices. Renewable and distributed energy resources such as wind and solar are intermittent power resources which can create erratic shifts in electric supply and demand.
This change in demand and supply fundamentals has asset operators and owners in electric power markets investing in strategic asset management products, services and offerings in order to optimize all their power assets. In doing so, this can provide greater power system reliability and efficiency in the long run.
Traditional asset maintenance for utilities has been a scheduled based maintenance approach. Most generation and transmission and distribution assets historically have been worked on during times of low electric demand.
For example, in the US Northeast the typical time to schedule maintenance would be in the early spring or early fall when electric demand would be low because this would be the time when preforming maintenance would be the most economical. Also take into account this is the best time for maintenance in regard to ensuring reliability to the power system.
With the advancement of asset management and the influx of new renewable and distributed generation, traditional asset maintenance approaches are shifting to more of a strategic asset management approach.
A New Strategic Approach to Asset Management
Power asset owners and operators are now shifting their approach in asset maintenance from time or scheduled based maintenance to a more flexible, proactive and strategic approach to asset management. This includes preventative, predictive and prescriptive maintenance. Assets with sensors collecting operational data combined technology advancements in areas such as edge computing and analytics is providing asset owners insight and real-time data helping alert and guide asset owners with actionable timely intelligence.
This strategic approach to analytics around operational data has proved to save time, costs and improve reliability and safety for asset owners in regional power markets globally.
This advanced approach to asset management can be ideal and benefit both new renewable and distributed resources in addition to traditional fossil fuel units. In some regional power markets this approach to asset management will have a greater impact on traditional fossil fuel units and in areas such as the US, in particular natural gas generation.
Renewable and distributed generation are on a steady growth trajectory. However, fossil fuel-like natural gas (which are most of the fuel mix in many regional generation supply stacks) can improve operational performance, generation unit output while minimizing asset down time and improving the overall economics of traditional fossil fuel units. The new approach to asset management is focused around asset optimization which can be a benefit for all technologies and fuel types of generation resources.
Asset Optimization Up and Down the Generation Supply Stack
As distributed and renewable energy resources grow, this is changing the traditional centralized power market to one that is dispersed and not as predictable regarding generation supply meeting electric demand. There have been and will continue to be new technologies and market mechanisms introduced to help improve an asset or a fleet of assets optimization, reliability, environmental performance and economic output.
When taking this approach with renewable and distributed generation this could include technologies and market programs and mechanisms such as: demand response, electric vehicle to grid applications, solar plus energy storage, virtual power plants, net metering programs and improvements in ancillary and capacity markets. For traditional fossil fuel units this could include applying machine learning and artificial intelligence in order to provide preventative maintenance, improving ramp rates and the availability to add quick start units to the supply stack in order to make up for missing renewable supply when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing.
Managing Assets in the New Renewable Frontier
Please join IDC Energy Insights for our webcast on Tuesday April 7th from 11:00am -12:00 pm ET to learn more about management assets in this new renewable frontier. We will discuss some of the main drivers which are changing the approach to asset performance management including: economics, technology, regulation and the penetration of renewable and distributed generation.
We will also discuss the current status on asset performance in power markets and direction of a new approach to strategic asset performance management. We will additionally discuss how power market fundamentals and dynamics continue to shift from a centralized power system made up of traditional fossil fuels to power systems which are incorporating more renewable and distributed generation in movement toward a more decentralized, decarbonized and digitized market.