Network October 2018

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NETWORK / 34 / OCTOBER 2018 Q What is the best way to try innovations on a huge customer base/ national operation? A Innovations generally require early adopters (from an SME perspective) to be identi- fied and targeted. By definition economies of scale do not exist and costs are met via higher pricing or cost support. In short this implies trying innovations on a huge customer base is not practical. The parallel to this then is finding the right person (the early adopter with clout!) within ELIMPUS A Bandwidth of the people (Elimpus and network op- erator) is a significant challenge when trying to complete the business and engineering tasks that keep the wheels turning on day to day activities. SMEs somehow need to get atten- tion and share of mind and are in direct competition with the larger companies for this where more extensive relationships usually exist. Q How smart is the smart revolution going to be? A Very smart once AI is rolled out. Again, the availability of relevant data is the gate. What outcomes can be accu - rately predicted with the mini- mum of information as a proxy for lowest cost? For example, demand need not be based on sensors in every house but at strategic points in the network. Q Why do UK utilities need to evolve? A Normally you sell at lower price to stimulate demand and grow profits or increase price when supply is short. The political and environmental constraints are pushing in the opposite direction. Incentives are enabling ubiquitous energy sources which bit by bit are be - coming mainstream. Integration and management will be the challenge moving forward. Q Can regulation be a barrier to innovation? A It can also be an enabler (car seatbelts). Regula- tion is important as minimum standards are needed to protect society, to lower cost to society in the sum. Regulation per se is generally a good idea, as long as the motives behind it are sound. In its simplest form, protection of IP helps drive innovation. The real question is whether it sup- ports or hinders the efficient use of capital and if the latter then there is the danger of obstruc- tion. Q What are the biggest disruptors facing utilities? A On one hand substitution of energy sources and on the other unforecasted peak de- mands. If the network increases in complexity where will the skillsets need to be strength- ened and will the transfer of human investment reduce tradi- tional skill availability impact- ing on operations and safety? Not having the right workforce for the new paradigms could arguably be a major hurdle to be cleared. If economies of scale are no longer a barrier to entry how will utilities adjust to find a dif - ferent value in their offering and how to monetise this. If smart meters do reduce consumption then revenues in theory fall, which in turn means costs need to fall even more i.e. capital needs to be used more efficient - ly suggesting lower investments will yield greater returns to bal- ance the profitability needed. Adopting innovation This new section features regular interviews with small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) to highlight the work they're doing with networks and the types of technologies that are driving innovation forward. Here, Jim Ronnie, business development manager at Elimpus, is the focus. GET IN TOUCH If you're interested in in being featured in the new Supplier Side section, or know of someone who might be, please get in touch with the editor at "Regulation per se is generally a good idea, as long as the mo- tives behind it are sound." l Elimpus is a product and service provider to the electricity supply utilities and industry equipment suppliers. The company specialise in the field of non-invasive condition monitoring to improve safety and asset management. a large operation with the vision to understand and then drive in their organisations the will to implement what an SME would have to offer. For example, Elim - pus core technology base is the use of radiometric detection of partial discharge (PD). High speed electronics can then be used to locate sources of PD. Typically applied with multiple anten - nas in substations it could also be used in large transformers. Given the fact the UHF will not be transmitted outside the tank then internal sensors are needed and utilities would be mostly unwilling to fit once the assets are already in place, i.e. the major part of the market. Coupling with a transformer manufacturer would present the lowest possible cost to provide the highly desir - able ability to detect, locate and monitor PD in a transformer. To put it another way, airbags as an innovation had to be a manu - facturer implementation. From one customer (Ford, etc) you had many customers (drivers). Q What cutting-edge technologies are you most excited about? A Sensor communication capability. Sensors are only useful in so far as the data is us- able in the right timeframe. An intelligent and dynamic network is dependent on the right data, e.g. from pinch points in the network, from early indicator points that will feed in to the decision process. Q As an SME, what are some of the main challenges you face when it comes to engaging with the wider sector and the regulator?

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