The Impact of Load Analysis & Forecasting on Systems Planning

hill-802063_1920The utility industry places a high degree of importance around the ability to forecast load. This analysis ensures utilities have the proper infrastructure in place to match supply with anticipated demand – especially given the amount of time and effort required to get new investments approved by regulators.

A CHANGING DYNAMIC

Historically, predicting long-term load requirements has been a function of population growth, average energy consumption, and GDP growth – typically utilizing a sampling approach, rather than analyzing all meters. The reason sampling has been favored for so long is largely due to technology’s inability to deal with the data size of analyzing all meters in a cost effective manner.

However, each meter represents a different customer – that could be residential, commercial, or industrial, with individual variances in geographic location, square footage, and whether there is an electric vehicle or solar panels – all of which affect consumption usage patterns for a specific meter.

The continued increase in energy efficiency, coupled with the rapid adoption of electric vehicles and solar panels, are making sampling less and less effective as a means to analyze load.

Load forecasting has also been limited by the amount of data available for analysis. Historically, utilities only had monthly meter reads, and daily information on weather factors like high and low temperature, humidity, and dew point.  Now, utilities have access to much more granular data, including minute by minute weather data, and 15 minute interval reads due to the introduction of smart meters.

In the past, technology also limited the amount of data that could be incorporated into a forecast. Now, with advances in in-memory computing such as SAP HANA, the amount of data that can be leveraged is virtually unlimited.

The previous two advancements created the opportunity for Utegration to develop Enterprise Load Analysis on SAP HANA, which provides the ability to leverage all smart meter data and all other granular information such as hourly weather data.

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Let’s walk through an example of how load patterns can rapidly change, such as when a customer installs a rooftop solar unit.

  • Before the installation, up to 70% of the customer’s load requirements could be explained by temperature variances alone. Now, their net load requirements are dependent on how much cloud cover and sunlight the house receives, in addition to traditional factors.
  • Depending on the angle the panel is placed at, the amount of energy generated can be dramatically different than another customer (or the utility’s solar generation facility) that’s only a few miles away.
  • This is one of many examples of why the sampling approach is less effective, as the sample might not catch accurately represent the larger patterns that are occurring.

Adding to the complexity surrounding asset development is the fact that utilities need to plan up to 10 years in advance to factor in the amount of time it takes to complete the regulatory approval process, asset design, and build.

  • According to an Accenture survey, more than half of utility respondents cited regulatory requirements as the primary cause of capital project delays, and only 34% said their organization delivered to the approved schedule for their recent project investments.
  • This makes it even more important to get forecasts right the first time.

That’s why Utegration teamed up with one of the world’s preeminent data scientists for load analysis to develop Enterprise Load Analysis on SAP HANA. By combining granular data from all customers, along with historical load and hourly (as opposed to daily) weather data, we help normalize the effects of each individual factor by circuit, substation, feeder, and transmission line to help enable more accurate long-term system planning.

Visit Utegration at SAP for Utilities Oct 9-12 for the official launch of Clear Insight, and let us show you how Enterprise Load Analysis will transform your business. In the meantime, stay tuned for our upcoming post, which will discuss how load forecasting can create value in the regulatory process.

Promoted content. Utegration is a Premier Sponsor at 2016’s SAP for Utilities Conference, and this post originally appeared on their blog here.

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