3 Key Insights For a Cost-Effective Distribution Grid Investment

There are two types of energy grids – transmission and distribution –
and each type requires a different set of considerations when looking
for investment upgrades. Transmission investments are rare, and often
happen in bulk, whereas distribution investments are much more
commonplace for utilities.

With distribution grids, investments are made by overbuilding for the
worst-case scenario. Utilities need advanced data in order to make
effective investments decisions, including determining how much of an
investment is needed, and identify what worst-case scenarios may exist.


Valuable insights for your investment decision

There are three important factors that utility companies can look at
when making investment decisions. These are location, time and energy
alternatives. The best way to effectively look at these factors use clean,
harmonized data to make a cost-effective distribution grid investment.
While these factors seem quite simple to analyze, this trio needs to be
considered in detail to make a sound investment.


1. Locational

Use historical consumption data to look for areas on your grid that
either have:

  • Irregularities in load (e.g. one day a year has an irregularly high
  • Upcoming developments that would greatly impact future load
    (e.g. new buildings, neighbourhoods that may be more likely to
    adopt electric vehicles)

This data will help you focus your investments on areas that need
improvements and avoid overbuilding in areas that don’t need it.


2. Time

Location is important, but to make a cost-effective investment, you also
need to look granularly at time. Instead of overbuilding the entire
system for peak (which could occur as rarely as one day per year), use
time-series analysis to granularly identify how often that peak really
happens. If it’s uncommon, you can consider overloading the system for
that short period of time per year (or temporarily feeding in energy from
a neighbouring grid) instead of building a permanent asset that would
cost a lot.


3. Energy alternatives

The answer to investment shouldn’t always be to build more lines,
transformers or substations—because let’s face it, that gets expensive.
Instead, utility companies can look for available resources and options
that can help contain issues locally. For example, microgrids, or demand
response. You can also use planning or risk assessment tools to
determine whether your chosen energy alternatives can meet the
demands of select areas.


Investment ready

When these three factors are analyzed, utility companies can make
informed investment decisions that help you save more. OpusOne
offers tools like GridOS Integrated Distribution Planning that can help
make cost-effective distribution grid investments.