The business model on which the utilities sector is based is currently undergoing a radical revolution: one caused by several factors, including global objectives aimed at a drastic decrease in CO2 emissions. We are seeing a change in the energy paradigm as a whole, driven by the significant diffusion of energy produced using renewable sources. This production is possible thanks to distributed generation systems, progressive diffusion of electric mobility and storage systems, and to the need to monitor and reduce end consumption: all elements that have already had a strong impact on the business model associated with all segments of the value chain.
To meet market expectations, many operators have already started relying on the latest technology to offer new products and services to their customers and to align their operating models with the new context. Energy optimisation, configuration and management of micro-grids, the diffusion of charging systems for electric vehicles, the introduction of new markets for the management of energy demand and the sale of peer-to-peer energy are just a few of the new opportunities available to customers, suppliers of energy and new entrants.
In this scenario, the IoT and edge computing are playing an increasingly key role in the evolution of product and service offers. The inherent nature of IoT solutions, which enables the integration of a vast and heterogeneous range of technologies such as sensors, meters, machinery, charging units, transformers and inverters into core-business processes and corporate IT systems, attributes a highly strategic role to this technology.
Leading international utility providers, whose goal is to play a leadership role in the global market, are investing heavily in the transformation of their processes, their services and their product offers. IoT is proving to be an irreplaceable ally in the future management of complex, heterogeneous and large-scale energy generation, transmission, distribution and storage systems. But not only that: widespread connectivity and edge computing architectures make it possible to acquire and process huge volumes of data by applying edge computing logic and algorithms, and enabling processes that were previously considered impossible to implement and which have now become mission-critical.
Sense Reply – the Reply Group company specialising in end-to-end IoT solutions for the Energy & Utilities, Telecommunications and Smart City sectors – is leading several important international projects in this sector. The aim is to enable the creation of new business capabilities, implementing edge components that are robust and flexible, highly engineered IoT and big data platforms and to include these new complex information systems within corporate architectures using the latest paradigms such as DevOps and microservices.
Sense Reply has already successfully designed and implemented new IoT solutions for several customers in the utilities sector. These solutions enable the management and energy optimisation of industrial plants, the aggregation of demand, the monitoring and optimisation of thermal and renewable generation, the management of electric vehicle charging stations, the acquisition of consumption data from medium-voltage/low-voltage smart meters, as well as the monitoring and optimisation of medium-voltage/low-voltage grids.
The solutions made available by Sense Reply for the utility sector also provide for the implementation of edge software and IoT gateways that can be hosted on hardware based on different technologies and architectures. They can also be hosted on the cloud and are capable of performing different types of functions: from simple aggregations or conditional rules to complex artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms. In practice, we are talking about industrial edge solutions and IoT gateways that support a continuous dialogue with the most widespread industrial and energy protocols, with Scada systems and with various types of sensors.
Moreover, Sense Reply’s solutions also provide native integration with cloud providers, software solutions for commercial IoT platforms, and customised IoT platforms based on various open source technologies or microservices. All the various services offered are secure and aligned with industry best practices and developed using a ‘security by design’ approach, guaranteeing the interoperability of synchronous and asynchronous levels, connecting services through different technologies and languages.