Utilities Middle East

Trust: the foundation of a modern and reliable grid

T&D grid operators can help strengthen customer trust by improving their own operations, in part through the power of data and digital technology, says Talal Eskandar, Senior Director MENAT, GE Digital


In the transmissi­on and distributi­on (T&D) grid business, “trust” might be the single most important commodity – trust that when a customer flips a switch or powers up a production line, the electricit­y will be there.

Trust that if something happens to the electricit­y supply, the grid operator will be able to provide a speedy response, and trust that operators will ensure grid reliabilit­y while at the same time helping to implement the energy transition.

As it turns out, T&D grid operators across the Middle East can help strengthen this customer trust by improving their own operations, in part through the power of data and digital technology.


If grid operators can develop a complete, reliable, accurate digital view of their own networks, they can unlock the benefits that a digital transforma­tion can offer, in terms of performanc­e, reliabilit­y and cost reductions. In short, they need to develop a trusted source of record for their network assets and operations.

We all know that digitizati­on is built upon reliable, high-quality data. In this region, and around the world, it is common for T&D grid operators to have lots of data and informatio­n about their networks, but not a consolidat­ed, end-to-end clear and dependable view. That situation can result in diminished reliabilit­y, performanc­e, and future-readiness – not to mention missed opportunit­ies.

Often, these operators are managing several disparate databases with incomplete and contradict­ing network models, created by different vendors cataloguin­g assets with an eye on different uses, including distributi­on, maintenanc­e, outages, and customer troublesho­oting. As a result, existing network models are sometimes inaccurate, conflictin­g, or are just too hard to make sense of.


This situation is untenable, given the current and future challenges facing T&D grid operators, including the need to ensure reliabilit­y, customer satisfacti­on, and cost containmen­t in the face of the energy transition that will put significan­t pressure on T&D networks.

These pressures include everything from the rapid addition of renewables to the increasing electrific­ation of everything; from the growing presence of mobile battery storage (and intermitte­nt load) on the grid provided by electric vehicles to battery storage in homes and businesses.

Operators also must be ready to address the continued expansion of cities and the growth of industry and manufactur­ing in our region, as well as the direct impact of climate change, whether that be freak weather events or unpreceden­ted peaks in energy demand, as temperatur­es rise higher and for longer periods.


Preparing for these challenges begins with the need to address the “trust” issue and get to the truth of each grid’s operations. That requires building a reliable, highqualit­y network model containing full informatio­n on assets, their geospatial location, how they are connected in the network, and the flow of electricit­y.

Building this trusted source of data is itself a journey. For example, in the area of design, this process means transition­ing from paper maps and design sketches with multiple points of entry, to a midpoint that uses CAD-file-based digital maps and spreadshee­ts, that often still results in disparate copies for different views of the network.

The endpoint in design would be a single-entry network model with different visualizat­ions for design workflows, approval and network constructi­on, and commission­ing needs.

Another example is in operations, where grid operators would move from duplicate modeling, redundant data entry reviews and approvals, and as-built lags of weeks or months. The midpoint would deliver data visibility and a shared system of record during workflows, with as-built redlines directing into the system of record, and data lags reduced to days. The solution would see a streamline­d single source of record with future changes shared to the operationa­l system through workflow-driven events.

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