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By Bryan Friehauf, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Software Solutions, Hitachi Energy; and Phil Gruber, General Manager, Energy/Utility Industry Practice, Hitachi Vantara
Today’s utilities are transforming operations to support a more diverse mix of assets and to enable smarter, faster decision-making and environmental responsibility. For example, many utilities are employing high-speed communications, along with smart devices that generate near-real-time data from every part of their organizations. Energy companies are acquiring unprecedented volumes of data from IoT sensors and drones that inspect facilities, monitor equipment for changes in temperature and conditions, and perform countless other tasks.
This data can help them understand the current state of their energy sources to forecast demand, optimize distribution and improve efficiency — all of which contribute to the greater sustainability many consumers desire. But making sense of that data can be a challenge without the right technology and strategic advisors to provide guidance.
To reach today’s ambitious sustainability goals, energy companies will need the help of top technology leaders. For example, Ameren, an energy company with 2.4 million electric customers and more than 900,000 natural gas customers, has partnered with Hitachi to acquire a new level of insight into its dynamic generation and distribution environments. Committed to balancing customer concerns with its impact on the environment and the communities it serves, the company unveiled an ambitious plan to evolve its grid to become more sustainable. With its net-zero carbon emissions initiative, Ameren aims to retire its last baseload coal plant in 2042. By 2050, it will be essentially carbon-free. It plans to invest in electric and communications grids to offer customers access to affordable, sustainable products and services, from solar panels to electric-vehicle support. The company wanted a partner that shared its environmental philosophy and had the experience to provide advanced technologies and guidance. Hitachi had all of these attributes, plus a dedication to social innovation and powering good. Ameren uses solutions from Hitachi Energy and Hitachi Vantara, including Hitachi’s Lumada solutions, to support its strategy. The two companies provide digital technologies and consulting services that enable:
Ameren uses solutions from Hitachi to support and manage a complex mix of renewable energy providers, prosumers, traditional generation assets and more. For example, Hitachi’s Lumada Asset Performance Management (APM) solution lets Ameren monitor its critical equipment and support condition-based asset management. Lumada APM helps hundreds of customers across the globe every day as they manage more than $4 trillion in assets. It helps Ameren base decisions to “maintain, repair or replace” on actual asset conditions — and their criticality to operations. Monitoring asset health enables Ameren to determine repair and replace priorities, mitigate risks before they affect customers, and minimize wasteful, expensive unplanned outages — as well as associated truck rolls and their associated emissions.
Energy organizations must contend with rapidly shifting market uncertainties, such as changing economies that affect energy loads and scales. Costly decarbonization initiatives and evolving asset portfolios are also in the mix as they migrate facilities to more sustainable energy sources. By combining Hitachi software solutions with sustainable energy storage provided by Hitachi Energy, energy companies can meet the growing demand for connected asset performance and proactive forecast for better maintenance and investment planning. Hitachi helps organizations unlock deep visibility into the state of their assets — and share those insights with the community and potential business partners. In a dynamic environment, utilities must perform analysis at a much more granular level than in the past. For example, the challenges that Ameren faces on the distribution grid are much more local than those of a transmission grid. With Lumada APM, the company can publish heat maps on its website, showing optimal locations for distributing resources and making that information available to developers and customers. Ameren’s initiative reflects a fundamental transformation of the distribution grid, driven by an increasing diversity and the emergence of distributed generation sources. It also demonstrates Hitachi’s commitment to "powering good", innovating to accelerate the energy transition toward a carbon-neutral future. Hitachi is leading by example, seeking to achieve carbon-neutrality in its own operations by 2030. By partnering with Hitachi to enhance visibility, develop intelligent insights and support more sustainable production, Ameren is poised to increase the reliability and availability of its services while also driving down costs. To learn more about how Hitachi is empowering local communities to extend positive environmental impacts worldwide, visit https://www.hitachienergy.com/.
SVP, Enterprise Software Solutions, Hitachi Energy
As SVP of Enterprise Software Solutions for Hitachi Energy, Bryan Friehauf leads the overall strategy for enterprise solutions designed to drive digital transformation in complex business environments. He has 30 years of experience managing technical services organizations in the mining, utility, and manufacturing industries.
General Manager, Energy/Utility Industry Practice, Hitachi Vantara
Phil Gruber, Vice President of Energy at Hitachi Vantara, leads the energy practice with a focus on unlocking synergy with Hitachi’s newly acquired energy business. Previously, Phil was the global digital leader at Atkins Engineering where he built a new revenue stream through digital products and services in the areas of data analytics, digital twin, sight inspection, and asset management. Prior to Atkins, he had a long career at IBM, where he first began as a management and IT consultant for U.S. utility companies.