Once a product of science fiction, artificial intelligence (AI) is now real and may eventually help enhance the process of producing and transmitting energy. For example, AI could help integrate renewable energy sources onto the grid, accelerate storm recovery efforts, trigger automatic grid maintenance, predict infrastructure failures before they happen, protect against cyber threats, optimize demand management tactics, and much more.
Artificial Intelligence is Already Used by Utilities
It might come as a surprise to some that artificial intelligence is already relatively pervasive in the utility industry. This is mainly due to the emergence of smart meters and the data and intelligence that these meters are able to harness. There are already more than 70 million smart meters installed in the U.S., and this number is poised to increase dramatically over the next few years.
Utilities have struggled managing the data from smart meters, simply because there is too much of it. That’s where AI can really help. Artificial intelligence can analyze mountains of data to extract only the most relevant intelligence, proactively creating or deploying solutions based on its findings. It’s a way to cut through the clutter, and increase organizational intelligence regarding the most important data and what to do with it.
In the future, AI will be able to predict failures to reduce downtime, and will be able to quickly react to unpredictable situations in an optimized fashion. From an emergency planning perspective, this will help reduce outage frequency as well as the duration of outages.
In the final analysis, there’s little doubt that artificial intelligence is a win-win for utilities as well as their customers. Let’s just hope the technology never becomes self-aware!