Collaborative Innovation: The Key to a Successful Energy Transition
The energy industry is undergoing an unprecedented transformation. From the rise of electric vehicles to the widespread adoption of renewable energy sources, the electrical grid is experiencing a massive shift. While this transition presents many opportunities, it also poses significant challenges for electric utilities, which must keep pace with these changes and modernize the electrical grid.
To meet these challenges head-on, electric utilities must work closely with technology providers to develop innovative solutions that meet the needs of everyday power users. This approach to collaborative innovation is not new to S&C, as it is at the heart of the company's business model and has been for more than 100 years. Our latest product, the EdgeRestore® Underground Distribution Restoration System, is a prime example of this.
The EdgeRestore system addresses the growing need to protect against the severe weather events associated with climate change by undergrounding distribution systems. Although undergrounding protects utility cables from severe weather, a fault on underground residential distribution circuits always results in a permanent outage. This not only impacts the reliability of the grid but also leads to multiple truck rolls and hours of downtime for a single lateral fault. The EdgeRestore system addresses this challenge by automatically locating faults, isolating the issue, and rerouting power from an alternate source – without crew intervention and in less than 60 seconds.
S&C collaborated closely with one of its customers to develop the EdgeRestore Underground Distribution Restoration System. We used the utility’s performance data and customer feedback to gain a comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted issue of underground lateral protection. This collaborative approach enabled S&C to develop a product that directly addresses the needs of its customers.
But S&C's commitment to collaborative innovation does not end with new product development. The company also relies heavily on customer feedback to make updates to its existing product lines. By making its products smaller, lighter, and more cost-effective than the previous product generation, S&C is constantly striving to stay ahead of the challenges facing its utility customers.
Responding to the needs of power users today while simultaneously preparing for the needs of the future grid requires utilities and technology providers to work together to form authentic collaborative relationships. While the energy transition will be neither swift nor simple, the continued prioritization of collaboration is the surest path to success.
March 28, 2023