Smart energy technology solutions are viewed as transformative and will fundamentally improve distribution systems, field operations and the consumer experience, according to the results of a survey of nearly 100 participants attending the DistribuTECH conference this month.
The pulse survey, conducted by Capgemini U.S. LLC, a global leader in consulting, technology and outsourcing, found nearly half (43%) believe the biggest positive gain from widespread acceptance and implementation of smart meter technology will be "helping consumers better manage their energy use," while another one-third (33%) point to "enabling consumers to save money in this era of rising energy prices." Both responses indicate the industry's search and need for innovative technology solutions to current industry challenges.
More than two-thirds (68%) of DistribuTECH respondents believe that utility T&D operations will improve through the implementation of smarter technology implementations over the next five years, compared to only three in ten (31%) who are unsure of such benefits. A majority of respondents were also bullish on the potential of innovative technology breakthroughs in the following T&D areas: SCADA (86%), GPS and GIS (73%), substation automation (71%), wireless services (66%) and worker mobility (58%).
"The survey respondents indicated there is a willingness on the part of utilities today to invest in smart energy technology to achieve a competitive advantage in distribution operations," said Doug Houseman, principal at Capgemini. "According to our study of FERC Form 1 filings, utilities have invested capital in everything but T&D for the last 15 years and the impacts of those decisions are showing in serious degradation of the grid."
Other key findings from the Capgemini pulse survey at DistribuTECH:
- Two-thirds (65%) of respondents hailed from the financial sector and other service providers, while the remainder (32%) were from the utility industry.
- Respondents were overwhelmingly from North America (84%), with significant representation from Canada (12%).
- Two-thirds (64%) believe the emergence of a "smart grid" will not happen for six to ten years, while another one-quarter (28%) believe it will happen in less than five years.
- The top four major issues impeding the progress of better T&D in North America today are: lack of investment capital, lack of political or regulatory support for change, aging workforce issues and relentless cost pressures.