What’s Needed for an Effective Renewable Energy Management Solution (REMS)
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Energy and utility companies are under constant pressure to decarbonize and electrify, and though this may be disruptive for operations (while being kind to the planet), the fundamental nature of electrification is that it can be easily digitized and monitored, and therefore productized. Octopus Energy in the U.K. is one of many renewable energy companies that have introduced home appliances for monitoring and maximizing energy usage. This trend toward digitization has also led to the development a new breed of solutions for managing renewable energy. As Gartner® explains in the Gartner Market Guide for Renewable Energy Management Solutions report, “Energy companies that own and/or operate utility-scale renewable assets use renewable energy management solutions (REMS) as a set of modular functions deployed on a scalable platform. REMS manage and optimize [renewable energy] production, operations and maintenance across assets, sites, and portfolios.

Given the variable capacity factors of these assets, REMS orchestrates numerous data inputs through integration, including the as-built composite digital twin, operational and condition data, and near-real-time environmental and weather forecasts to maximize generation for any operational strategy.”

Real-Time Data for REMS

Not all data is required in real time. Yet REMS serve a wide variety of real-time data use cases. Gartner says that “REMS platforms collect real-time sensor data (from the Industrial Internet of Things [IIOT]), including insights from weather data tools, lidar, real-weather measurement and forecasting, SCADA, and site data. This data needs to be validated, error-corrected, estimated and persisted. The time series data can be parsed for events such as anomalies, out-of-range data and trends. When time series data is consumed by a digital twin, the capabilities can deepen beyond monitoring to include simulation, automation, and control.” Additionally, Gartner says that “Asset-centric REMS uses the collect and monitor capabilities to guide operators and/or to directly control renewable energy assets. This improves asset availability by managing alerts and defects to curtail operations when needed, and to schedule and coordinate remedial work. Operation-centric REMS will optimize individual asset performance against local conditions, such as wind speed and direction, by controlling the yaw angle to improve the overall wind farm output. Business portfolio REMS reports real-time business performance through a business-created control paradigm or a process-control paradigm, such as automated closed-loop control, including customizable dashboards and tools for reporting.”

Full Orchestration

Related to real-time data, the orchestration of multiple data sources is a key capability for REMS. As Gartner explains it in a Recommendation at the start of the report, “Move to horizontal orchestration of data that supports business capabilities through IT/OT/ET [Information Technology/Operational Technology/Engineering Technology] alignment and integration. Energy CIOs must support decision intelligence across business operations for scaling renewable energy by comprehensive mapping and coherent funding of REMS functionality on the [renewable energy] strategic roadmap.”

Gartner lists orchestration as another minimal viable capability of REMS. Gartner says that “REMS platforms enable the orchestration of renewable operations across traditional organizational silos, from asset and work management to operations and business performance, spanning business activities across enterprise systems through data and system integration.”

Data Fabric and Digital Twins

Transparency, or the ability to see into the intricate workings of complex systems, is another important characteristic of an effective REMS. “As the energy transition progresses and renewable energy generation increases,” says Gartner, “energy CIOs require more transparency to improve operation and business decisions. This is driving requirements for newer and more comprehensive design patterns (including digital twins) that demand a data fabric.”

Digital twins are digital representations of physical phenomena, such as customers. Energy and Utility companies can leverage REMS to create digital twins of wind turbines, solar panels, and other equipment.

Logical Data Management for REMS

REMS have the capacity to manage real-time data, in an orchestrated manner, and yet, as Gartner says above, “This is driving requirements for newer and more comprehensive design patterns (including digital twins) that demand a data fabric.”

I would venture to say that most REMS will probably be set up to receive and process real-time data, but very few will be able to actually get data in real time.

As Gartner puts it, “To improve operational efficiency, REMS platforms need to ingest large volumes of time series data from multiple sources. This requires robust integration data, which is often supported by complementary and often third-party tools.”

For this reason, I believe that a logical data management platform would be the perfect complement for REMS. Logical data management platforms, in contrast with traditional data management platforms, do not physically move data; instead, they provide real-time views of the data in its existing locations. Architecturally, a logical data management platform would be placed as a layer between the REMS and all of the relevant data sources. In this way, users viewing a dashboard in the REMS would see data drawn from myriad sources, as if all the data were sitting on that person’s computer.

Supported by a logical data management platform, REMS can reach their fullest potential in helping companies to manage their critical renewable energy assets.

Gartner, Market Guide for Renewable Energy Management Solutions, 19 June 2023.  GARTNER is a registered trademark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and are used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

Saptarshi Sengupta