Smart grid distribution automation revenue case is growing

The lessons learned from smart grid pilots over the last 5 years are leading to reliability improvements and verified grid efficiencies, which in turn have become drivers for growth in the distribution automation (DA) market.

In the context of smart grid deployments today, distribution automation refers to intelligent distribution systems that are fully controllable and flexible, and that can help operate the grid more efficiently due to their embedded intelligence.

According to a new report from Navigant Research, revenue from distribution automation systems will grow from $6.3 billion in 2013 to more than $11.3 billion in 2020.

“The global market for distribution automation is diverse, dynamic and growing,” says Kristoffer Torvik, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “As annual utility spending reaches and exceeds $10 billion in the coming years, opportunities will vary significantly by region and application. Although low voltage applications contribute most significantly to growth in DA, medium voltage automation constitutes the majority of the overall volume.”

Distribution automation technology can play a critical role in outage recovery, delivering the capability to sense and pinpoint faults, reroute power flows through dynamic sectionalizing, and even provide key location information back to line crews to speed repair and recovery.

Collectively, this type of application is called fault location, isolation, and service restoration (FLISR). However, few distribution feeders in North America currently have such capability, largely because the cost of rollout has traditionally been too high. According to the report, as interest in distribution automation continues to grow, FLISR will be a key application area, particularly in North America and in other regions as well.

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