Landis+Gyr: Securing the energy supply with AI and machine learning
Dr. Daniel Holz
Vice President EMEA North
With the global energy crisis driving a dramatic spike in the price of fossil fuels, countries around the world have urgently stepped up their transition to renewable power to reduce their reliance on imported, carbon-intense fuel sources. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), renewables will account for over 90% of global electricity expansion over the next five years, overtaking coal to become the largest source of global electricity by early 2025.
However, while investment in renewables improves countries’ long-term energy security, the rapid transition presents energy-security challenges of its own. As more renewable energy sources and Distributed Energy Resource (DER) assets (such as rooftop solar panels and microturbines) are added to the grid, this can lead to network congestion and imbalanced energy distribution, affecting the quality of supply.
A new business model for a changing industry
An industry leader in energy management solutions for more than 125 years, Landis+Gyr helps utility companies and grid operators to manage their energy infrastructure more efficiently. For Landis+Gyr, the answer to the challenges presented by a rapid transition to renewables lies in modernizing the traditional smart metering business model by using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to make the most of the huge amount of data that its utility customers are collecting every day.
However, Landis+Gyr initially found it difficult to innovate at the pace required by the rapidly changing energy industry, as its legacy on-premises analytics infrastructure lacked AI and ML capabilities.
“We wanted to build a new product that enabled advanced analytics, including AI and ML capabilities, which we could offer as a service to our customers,” says Antonio Hidalgo, VP Digital Solutions at Landis+Gyr. “We also needed a solution that was easy to set up, scalable, and which required very little management from our side. Those were the key criteria for us and Google Cloud met them all.”
Google Cloud partnered with Landis+Gyr, making it our mission to help the company to innovate faster with a unified and intelligent data platform.
Keeping the lights on with real-time data insights
Thanks to Landis+Gyr’s smart-metering infrastructure, utility companies all over the globe retrieve granular interval data for millions of devices every single day, creating a huge volume of data that needs to be uploaded and processed. Now, with the help of Cloud Storage, BigQuery, and Looker, Landis+Gyr can provide its utility customers with a comprehensive data lake and a complete analytics solution by using a cloud data warehouse, enabling them to make full use of their data to gain powerful insights in real time.
“BigQuery was super fast to set up and it scales seamlessly up and down, which makes the pricing structure very scale-friendly,” says Hidalgo. “Flexibility was also key for us. Our utility customers want to be able to define their own dashboards on a continuous basis, based on the information that is relevant to them. With Looker, we are now able to build and release something in a matter of days, not months. With our on-premises solutions, that was impossible. But on the cloud, with a modern CI/CD pipeline and the right level of automation, we can do it.”
Landis+Gyr is now able to provide its customers with data insights to manage all aspects of the power supply and distribution more effectively, from determining the quality of energy supply, through forecasting energy demand, to helping utilities maintain a distribution network with a growing volume of DER assets.
“Near real-time monitoring of sensor data streams enables our utility customers to predict many network issues in advance,” says Hidalgo. “By using Pub/Sub, we can ingest events and stream them in real time to BigQuery with Dataflow. Utilities can then analyze the network data to identify the problem and make decisions accordingly.”
Mapping the power grid with machine learning
Landis+Gyr is also making use of Google Cloud ML tools to improve the way utility companies maintain an accurate network connectivity model. Understanding the power system’s network topology, or how the various components such as generators, transformers and transmission lines are connected, is crucial for maintaining reliable and efficient grid operations, such as network planning, outage management and fault detection. This topology is traditionally maintained using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which Hidalgo says are prone to inaccuracy.
“On average, GIS systems typically have 5-20% inaccuracy in terms of where the end consumers are located in relation to the network,” Hidalgo notes. “With the introduction of new ML capabilities with Vertex AI, we can develop something far more accurate without the need to go to the field to confirm anything. A prediction with 97-98% accuracy is far more valuable from an operational point of view than the current GIS systems.”
Secure data for energy security
As data becomes increasingly important to utility companies, Landis+Gyr understands how critical it is to secure that data, and has been working with Google Cloud to apply cloud security best practices as a cornerstone of its new analytics solution.
“Before partnering with Google Cloud, we made a careful assessment of the data protection safeguards and security compliance of the different cloud providers,” says Hidalgo. “Google Cloud offers us state-of-the-art data protection and security standards, which means that our customers are the only ones who are accessing their data.”
Future-proofing the industry for a greener tomorrow
The past two years of this partnership have built the foundations for future innovations, not only from a technology perspective, but also from an organizational and operational perspective. And as the transition to renewables continues to transform the energy industry as a whole, Hidalgo is convinced that Landis+Gyr can use ML and AI to transform the way the industry meets the ongoing challenges of this transition.
“With Google Cloud, we are engineering a scalable, flexible solution that enables our customers to release new features quickly, to meet the fast-changing conditions we are now facing in the energy sector,” Hidalgo says. “And with AI and ML, we have the opportunity to create completely new insights with much more accuracy in terms of predictions, providing an entirely new way for the utility companies to operate the grid. ”
We all know how important the transition to renewables is. That’s why we are proud to partner with Landis+Gyr to lead the data transformation in the utilities sector and ensure that utilities can manage the security of supply with a powerful analytics solution.