2020 was a year of major disruption and innovation for the energy and utility industries. Modernization efforts accelerated in plant environments as leaders turned to tech to continue providing critical services. Whether it’s improving reliability, efficiency, or security, emerging technologies are helping to transform the utility industry as we know it—and the pace of that change will only continue to accelerate.

To help leaders in the utility industry stay ahead of digital transformation, we’re sharing some of the top technology trends to look for in 2021 and beyond.

Digital Twin
Many energy companies are using IoT to build smart energy plants and grids. To streamline operations, they need ways to make better sense of this data. Enter digital twin technology—a digital replica of a physical asset offering energy leaders increased visibility and prediction capabilities. In an increasingly distributed energy future, digital twin technology will be hugely beneficial for utilities.

Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning 
There are virtually endless applications of AI in the utility space. Many are turning to AI to manage demand, improve business intelligence, prevent outages, and improve customer care. AI and ML tools eliminate reliance on manual inspections and empower key decision-makers with more accurate and actionable data on power company infrastructure.

Edge Computing
More and more utility companies are embracing big data to meet the needs of their customers. Empowered by data, utilities can fend off potential security threats, meet customers’ needs, and reduce energy costs. Edge computing, where data is processed at or near the sources of data generation, is helping utility leaders analyze and act on this data in real-time. According to Forrester, 84% of utility companies are either implementing or planning to implement Edge IoT-enabled distribution automation of electric or water.

Drone technology helps utility companies inspect, monitor, and maintain their assets in a safer, more efficient way. These unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) are armed with cameras and other sensors to give utilities greater visibility into their infrastructure and identify potential threats quickly. In a time of social distancing, this technology has proven to be even more valuable and effective. 

The utility and energy sector is in the midst of a major digital transformation. If you’re looking to reimagine the future of power, gas, or renewables and need the right tech team to make it happen, contact us today. 3Ci supports leading utility and energy companies with top tech talent and custom solutions.