The Threats With Climate Change Vs. Grid Resiliency With Digital Applications

The Threats With Climate Change Vs. Grid Resiliency With Digital Applications

By Satish Saini, HEXstream utilities industry specialist; member of the Advisory Council of Engineers on Energy Transition to United Nations Secretary General; Working Group Lead: Energy Efficiency & Management, Transmission & Distribution, Utilities and Energy Consumers 

As noted in recent reports from NASA, the United Nations and IEA, there is unequivocal evidence that Earth is warming at an unprecedented rate, which is largely due to increased carbon-dioxide (CO2)  emissions in the atmosphere by various human activities. The energy/power sector is responsible for more than 40% of all energy-related CO2 emissions. 

Complicating matters are adverse weather events causing extreme heat, storms, hurricanes, tornados, floods and fires. These extreme weather events cause extensive damage to our aging energy/power infrastructure, causing widespread power outages and billions of dollars in losses to the economy.

In addition to adding renewable-energy sources to reduce GHG emissions in the atmosphere, there is a dire need to enhance grid adaptability and resiliency in order to mitigate the impacts on the infrastructure of these extreme weather events. With recent advancements in digital technologies, solutions and services, there is a great opportunity for utilities to utilize smart new applications and strengthen the grid with digitalization and automation to reduce power
outages and ensure that our communities have access to affordable, reliable and clean electricity. 

SAS, DS automation, ADMS, OMS, smart metering/ AMI, advanced utility analytics, big data analytics, IoT and cloud services are some of the examples of such technologies and solutions available to help utilities achieve their objectives.

Fortunately, the US Department of Energy (DoE) is offering many opportunities through various funding programs aimed at enabling the domestic power/utilities industry to strengthen the grid while utilizing the latest digital technologies and tools to enhance the grid reliability and resiliency. 

There are some recent examples that are very encouraging. In October, the DoE announced up to $3.46 billion in the first round of GRIP funding covering 58 projects across 44 states to strengthen electric grid reliability. During the second funding round in November, the DoE provided an additional $3.9 billion for fiscal years 2024 and 2025, aimed at maximizing grid-infrastructure deployment at-scale, while leveraging private-sector and non-federal public
capital to advance deployment goals. 

We face many challenges on this front. But we have many opportunities to overcome them. 

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