Accenture’s Role in the Smart Grid

Accenture Smart Grid Initiatives

Smart grids have the potential to offer many benefits, such as reduced energy consumption and costs, as well as increased reliability and transparency of the electrical power value chain. Traditional analogue, one-way power grids are being transformed into bi-directional digital smart grids. This transition from an analogue to a digital infrastructure in the utility sector is similar to the industry transitions seen in the banking and telecommunications markets 10 to 15 years ago. When the transition is complete, a smart grid will allow for greater transparency, drive reliability and efficiency, and provide better access and choice to consumers. It will also provide the network flexibility required to support our transition to a low-carbon economy.

About Accenture

As a global technology services, outsourcing and management consulting company, Accenture [NYSE: ACN] has more than 200K people serving customers in more than 120 countries worldwide. With the ability to carry out extensive research, Accenture combines their breadth and depth of experience with expansive capabilities spanning nearly all industries and business functions, and collaborates with clients enabling them to become high performing businesses and public organisations. In the fiscal year ended 31 August 2011, Accenture generated global net revenues of US$25.5 billion.

Accenture’s Smart Grid Capabilities

Within the company there are more than 9,300 professionals specializing in the power and electrical utility industry. Their experienced consultants have experience of the leading smart grid, smart metering, sustainable utilities, information security, systems operations, network communications and customer care implementations, having worked for more than 300 clients in 43 countries to help today’s utility companies face challenges in delivering smarter power infrastructures. Accenture has a proven track record in smart grid initiatives and has completed more than 105 smart grid projects around the world. It has three decades of experience from global power transmission and distribution practitioners, and also the expertise of IT practitioners brought together into a team that has extensive industry knowledge to tackle the world’s smart grid transformation challenges.

Accenture’s Smart Grid Strategy

As an indication of how seriously Accenture is taking the smart grid transformation challenge, the company has recently announced in February 2012 the opening of a new R&D lab in Beijing, China. This new facility has been tasked specifically to research emerging technologies and aid businesses and governments there, and also elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific Region, to develop new products and solutions spanning a broad range of industries such as power utilities, data communications, information security and operational technology. One primary focus area for the new lab will be how smart grid technologies can help China cope with ever-increasing energy demands as its economy gears up for sustained high growth.

“Innovation has been a key theme in China’s five-year plan and we look forward to serving as a long-term technology partner in support of the country’s development,” said Gong Li, chairman of Accenture Greater China. “The Beijing lab we’re unveiling today is focused primarily on developing practical innovations that are piloted and tested and can be implemented quickly by clients to improve business performance and outcomes,” added Kevin Campbell, group chief executive of technology at Accenture.

Case Studies

Boulder, Colorado, Smart Grid City

In February 2009, Accenture announced a partnership with Minneapolis based Xcel Energy and also Colorado’s largest electric utility, to build the world’s first smart grid city by 2010. The total combined value of the investment was US$100 million.

Accenture’s role is to project manage the integration and management of data flow, including automating processes, transmission and distribution of electricity, and to help Xcel Energy manage the Smart Grid City project. In addition, Accenture will build an innovation center for Xcel Energy that will provide a lab-like environment in which Accenture and Xcel Energy will test smart grid concepts including power outages, reliability, and their potential impacts to the Smart Grid. The goal is to help Xcel Energy transform its operations to perform at a higher level and enhance its customer service.

Amsterdam, European Union’s first “Intelligent City”

Announced in 2009, Amsterdam’s Smart City program is focused on creating sustainable and economically viable projects that will cut the city’s carbon emissions and help it meet the E.U.’s emissions and energy reduction goals for 2020. The city has enlisted the help of Accenture to create a smart electricity grid for businesses to hook up to, install smart meters and energy displays to homes, and take other steps to cut the city’s overall energy use.

The Smart City program includes smart electric grid, smart meters, smart building technologies like feedback displays and electric vehicles to cut energy use throughout commercial properties, residential areas, public buildings and transportation. Accenture is working with the Amsterdam Innovation Motor, a city-affiliated agency, throughout the program. The Amsterdam Innovation Motor establishes public and private sector cooperative projects.

Conclusion

Smart grids represent a rare opportunity to achieve a two-fold global good: protecting the environment and fostering social and economic progress. In emerging economies, economic growth and the resulting social benefits require abundant energy. But smart grids, with their potential to offer green, accessible and affordable power, won’t spring up on their own. Their development will require collaboration among governments, which can provide leadership; the ICT and energy sectors, which can provide advanced information and other technologies; and consumers, who will need to be educated about their benefits. Accenture is ideally placed as a key interlocutor between all these stakeholders, and their various initiatives have demonstrated their commitment towards the world-wide rollout of the smart grid.

Further Reading

Smart Grids – Environmental Sustainability and Renewable Portfolio Growth for High Performance.

Accenture Smart Grid Brochure

Accelerating Successful Smart Grid Pilots: World Economic Forum in partnership with Accenture.

World Economic Forum Smart Grid Report

 

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