TEPCO and IoT: how japan's big utility is transforming with PI System
Where will the utility of the future earn its revenue?
Broadband services? Software? Data analysis? The one thing for certain is that they won't simply sell power, water and/or gas. Revenue will be diversified.
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO), the mega utility in Japan, revealed more details about its transformation plans this week. TEPCO and its fuel subsidiary showed off a new IoT optimization center for optimizing efficiency and performance of thermal power plants through tasks like anomaly detection, better data visualization and general performance tuning.
TEPCO will use the center to optimize its own plants as well as facilities owned by other parties in different regions. That is where the new revenue streams come in: TEPCO is effectively monetizing its in-house expertise by making it available to others.
OSIsoft has been part of the effort since 2016 when the two companies unfurled an agreement to develop predictive maintenance and other services.
In today's release, TEPCO said that it expects the services to account for 50 million yen in revenue ($46 million) annually within three years. The IoT services have already helped reduce fuel burn in some units by 70 million yen while reducing outages by 10-20%.
As you can see from the diagram below, power station data gets shuttled to Amazon Web Services and the OSIsoft PI System. From there, it then gets shuttled to applications from Curtiss-Wright or other companies. It can also be visualized via PI Vision.
Diversification is still an emerging concept, but it's gaining momentum. Some of the more notable examples:
- Tennessee's EPB has become a broadband provider. “They are making a ton of money off of fiber. They are using it to pay for their smart grid improvements,” said Neil Placer at EnerNex at a panel at POWERGEN.
- Uniper, the German mega utility, has received the go-ahead from management to begin to explore interest in Tiresias, an in-house application for predictive maintenance. PJM has stated it similarly wants to explore commercializing DIMA, a field maintenance application.
- Financial Services. Blockchain is being discussed as a way to facilitate energy transactions between individuals. But some analysts and utilities are exploring ways in which utilities could serve as a neutral clearing house for transactions.
And so on. You'll hear more from TEPCO and others in the near future.