• 6 min read

Azure IoT drives next-wave innovation in infrastructure and energy

Many of the conveniences we enjoy today are dependent on the infrastructure cities and municipalities provide, such as water mains, streetlights, and roads. This infrastructure and its associated technology support our transportation systems, schools, hospitals, and more.

Many of the conveniences we enjoy today are dependent on the infrastructure cities and municipalities provide, such as water mains, streetlights, and roads. This infrastructure and its associated technology support our transportation systems, schools, hospitals, and more. A vital type of infrastructure is the electrical grid – every basic need we have is dependent on access to energy, but the way energy is managed is changing rapidly. Electric vehicles, solar roofs, battery storage, demand flexibility, and green energy are fundamentally changing grid management and driving the urgency to modernize the energy industry through innovation and technology.

Today at the DistribuTECH conference in New Orleans, Azure IoT partners are showcasing new solutions that bring the next level of “smart” to our grids. ABB, GE, EY, and Schneider Electric demonstrate their energy solutions and platforms in their respective booths. We invited eight partners to the Microsoft booth to demonstrate their approach to modernizing infrastructure, and how Azure IoT dramatically accelerates time to results. Each partner is showing exciting new use cases for utilities, infrastructure, and cities that take advantage of cloud, AI, and IoT.

With Azure Digital Twins our partners can create digital replicas of spaces and infrastructure. New functionality in limited preview is the Twin Object Model for Grid, which enables partners to accelerate their solution development with simple APIs that create and update grid assets like substations, transformers, and distributed energy resources (DERs). Together with partners, we are working on new energy optimization and forecasting scenarios, including utilizing connected distributed energy resources to balance the distribution grid to avoid expensive infrastructure upgrades and outages, automated carbon footprint reduction, and new ways to include smart charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.

Partners Solutions at DistribuTECH

Agder Energi, Nodes, and Enfo facilitate DER participation in the energy market

Agder Energi, a Norwegian electric utility, is using Azure Digital Twins to identify ways to operate its electrical grid more efficiently through distributed energy resources, device controls, and predictive forecasting – thus avoiding costly and time consuming energy upgrades.

NODES, a new company created by Agder Energi and Nord Pool, Europe’s leading power market, connects local and central power markets to an integrated market. It is a fully automated marketplace capable of real-time trading of available flexibility in the market with transparent prices in an open, integrated market place available to all flexibility providers and grid operators. The NODES-platform leverages the new energy optimization capability in Azure to trade local flexibility in a closed loop, real-time.

Enfo, a subsidiary of Agder Energi, has developed Flex tool, a full-service platform for energy flexibility providers, traders, aggregators, and power companies that aim to participate in the flexibility markets. The platform is running on Azure and is using Azure IoT services to forecast and optimize connecting flexible assets to the power system.

Allego adds more intelligence to e-mobility charging solutions

Allego is a leading European provider of charging solutions for electric vehicles (EVs) with significant expertise in e-mobility. The company operates over 12,000 charging points throughout Europe supporting companies and EV drivers via their cloud-based service platform.

Allego uses the new optimization capability for smart charging. New chargers maximize use of sustainably generated energy from local energy cooperatives and automatically reduce charging speeds during peak hours. Allego’s new smart charging solution is used across a network of 4,500 public charging points in 43 cities in the Netherlands. The solution will rapidly evolve to support advanced driver and operator needs and support millions of charge points across different geographies. Integration of renewable energy and energy storage into smart charging will allow charging aligned to energy production.

Eaton’s next-gen smart breaker for efficient energy management

Eaton, a global power management company, provides energy-efficient solutions to effectively manage electrical, hydraulic, and mechanical power more efficiently, safely, and sustainably. Eaton is using Azure IoT Central to enable easy application development for its industry-first Energy Management Circuit Breaker (EMCB). EMCB is a next-generation “smart breaker” that has the safety functionality of a standard circuit breaker with cloud-connectivity and on-board intelligence built in to help support grid optimization. It is a significant transformation of circuit breaker technology and offers revenue-grade branch circuit metering, communications capabilities, and remote access.

The EMCB is an entirely new kind of energy management device that offers advantages for utilities as well as consumers. It is suitable for a variety of end-use applications including Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), Home Area Networks (HAN), as well as Demand Response (DR), and solar installation monitoring.

eSmart Systems’ connected drone improves asset and grid monitoring

eSmart Systems provides AI-driven software for the energy industry and service providers. Its Connected Drone software uses the Microsoft Azure platform for efficient and accurate power grid asset detection and classification from aerial images. It can analyze 180,000 images in less than an hour (that's more than a human can do in a year) to give a complete overview of inspected assets in the electric grid.

eSmart Systems is partnering with Microsoft on several projects. The “Smart Clean Energy Parking” project within the City of Fargo is one of the projects in which eSmart Systems is partnering with Microsoft. It involves intelligent and efficient use of solar energy and battery storage, electric vehicle charging, and monitoring and reduction of carbon emissions. This project builds on the smart grid digital intelligence and clean energy thought leadership that eSmart and Microsoft bootstrapped in the context of European EMPOWER and INVADE projects.

E.ON sets a new bar for Home Energy Management security using Azure Sphere

E.ON is one of Europe’s leading energy companies. By bringing together home energy resources in a personalized solution, E.ON Home puts a single, responsive energy management solution in the hands of its customers. Heating, lighting, and energy sources like solar panels, batteries, and electric car home charging points can all cooperate to help people define and manage their household energy profile.

E.ON prepares for broad availability of the E.ON Home solution in 2019. To meet the highest standards of security, E.ON and Microsoft are partnering to power and secure devices across the E.ON ecosystem with Azure Sphere. Together we aim to design future-proof technology systems and to deliver E.ON customers the technology of tomorrow, today.

Itron creates state-of-the-art solutions for utilities and cities

Itron enables utilities and cities to safely, securely, and reliably deliver critical infrastructure services to communities around the globe. By combining its rich portfolio of smart networks, software, services, meters, and sensors with Azure Mixed Reality and Azure IoT services, Itron delivers a state-of-the-art solution for utilities and cities to manage energy and water.

The Itron Idea Labs team has created a virtual representation of the relationships between building materials, infrastructure, and various sensor types in a downtown Los Angeles neighborhood by leveraging Azure Digital Twins. A user can virtually install sensors, change rooftop materials, alter traffic patterns, plant trees, and experience the impact on every person, car, school, and building in the simulated environment by using the Microsoft HoloLens. Itron Idea Labs is among the first adopters of the Azure Digital Twins service, which enables developers to build repeatable, scalable experiences from digital sources and the physical world.

L&T develops smart energy solutions for buildings

L&T Group has decades of power and utilities expertise. L&T relies on Microsoft Azure and Azure IoT to deliver Smart Grid projects for several leading electric utilities including advanced analytics at utility, sub-station and meter level asset health performance, demand forecasting, outage management, and optimal use of renewable energy sources as part of the overall smart grid.

L&T Technology Services and Microsoft recently teamed up to deliver a sustainable Smart Campus for a leading technology company in Israel where integrated assets, systems, and predictive analytics are combined to reduce energy consumption by up to 40 percent. Together with Microsoft, L&T Group, L&T Power, and L&T Technology Services are developing next generation smart grid solutions leveraging Azure IoT services in the context of smart city, smart campus, and smart building scenarios.

Telensa develops smarter streetlights using edge and AI technologies

Telensa, the world leader in smart streetlighting systems, has chosen Azure IoT for their smart cities dashboard as well as a new initiative – Urban Data Project. The project creates a trusted infrastructure for urban data to enable cities to collect, protect, and use their data for the benefit of all citizens. The data comes from Telensa’s streetlight based multi-sensor pods, which will run on Azure IoT Edge and feature real-time AI and machine learning to extract insights from the raw data. The first deployment will be in Cambridge, UK.

Connected solutions to build smarter grid

With solutions that take full advantage of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge, we continue to demonstrate how cloud, IoT, and AI have the power to drastically transform every industry. Smart grids will drive efficiencies to power and utility companies, grid operators, and energy prosumers. Come see our partners at DistribuTECH, and how they are delivering the smart grid future today.

Partner links

Learn more about Microsoft Azure IoT.