July 2, 2015

Guest blog post: Delivering reliable energy in a digitalized world

Jussi Antikainen

Planning Manager, Savon Voima Verkko Oy

As electricity is so critical in today's society—for individuals, companies and society as a whole—it is crucial that power providers ensure that the production and distribution of electricity is reliable. Jussi Antikainen from Savon Voima explains how reliable energy is delivered in a digitalized world.

Imagine waking up tomorrow without electricity. The water supply has already stopped or will stop during the next few hours. Work places, stores, banks and gas stations are forced to close. In a few days all industry shuts down, and cities are left in gridlock with shortages of food and important daily consumables.

This dependence, together with strict new targets for delivery reliability in the new Finnish Electricity Market Act, demands new ways of handling electricity: automation, smart data utilisation and systems that communicate with each other. Especially in the event of power outages, the need for information is paramount, and this information must be up-to-date regarding blackout causes, repairs and expected downtimes.

Designing, constructing and maintaining a network that meet expectations will require the biggest investments in the power distribution infrastructure from electrical grid companies in history until today.

Delivering reliability through automation

Many challenges lay ahead as our working environment is changing rapidly. We must efficiently process and deliver a tremendous amount of information. As a grid company operating in the countryside with electricity lines running through forests, we need to make especially robust improvements.

Simultaneously the goal of responding to growing customer information needs through all available channels must be reached. We need to offer multifaceted digital services, real-time information and enhanced customer service through multiple channels.

How are we going to meet the new standards? This is a challenge that requires intelligent information systems, with the Industrial Internet central to the evolution.

In brief, we will rely on digitalization and automation to meet changing expectations. When a system as enormous and complex as the electrical grid is filled with automated components that are able to interact with each other, the opportunities for efficiency and benefits to consumers and businesses are limitless. All of this will hinge on current IT solutions being integrated into grid companies. And we are making this happen. Together with Tieto we are jointly developing a comprehensive digital system for grid management.

For example using electrical mobile device in the field allows data to be stored as it is created. Grid company partners and customers can also currently report their observations directly to grid companies. Through intelligent system solutions maintenance will become more efficient by, for example, decreasing response times to disturbances such as storms. For consumers, this translates to fewer and shorter blackouts.

New opportunities in the changing energy environment

The changing expectations from both customers and public authorities together with the core of our business—reliable electricity supply— forms complex challenges for us to tackle in the following years. The current development of rapid, reliable and high quality information and adequate new digital services is merely the beginning.

The evolving energy environment is however not just about challenges, but also new business opportunities. Finns are already enthusiastic about decentralised power generation and solar panels for both electricity and heat production. By constantly developing and reinventing ourselves as a company and creating intelligent information systems we can meet these changes.

Jussi Antikainen is the Planning Manager at Savon Voima Verkko Oy. Antikainen manages the network assets including strategic planning, information systems, investments in the power grid as well as business planning and development.

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