Can utilities use the cloud effectively?
By John McMalcolm
While more and more businesses are adopting cloud computing, most utility companies are still cautious about jumping on the bandwagon.
Since they need to handle highly sensitive customer information, it is natural that they will be more concerned with the security and privacy risks that may come with cloud computing.
However, as cloud computing continues to advance, it will become an increasingly relevant and irresistible computing option for the utility sector.
Here is a look at how utility companies can use the cloud effectively.
How Utilities Can Benefit from Cloud Computing?
One of the main reasons why cloud computing is so alluring to businesses is because it is a cost-effective computing solution. Utilities that use the cloud can save a substantial amount of money by eliminating the costs of servers, maintenance, software licenses, data center space, IT labor and electricity.
Due to its technical design, the cloud can provide exceptional flexibility. It can be easily accessed, expanded by adding more servers and made to disappear when it is not needed. As such, it is very useful for performing sporadic and temporary work, completing tasks quickly and processing large amounts of data.
Another advantage of adopting the cloud is that it can boost efficiency. With cloud computing, utility companies can significantly increase their agility and responsiveness, ability to implement standard applications and processes company-wide, and efficiency in procuring and installing IT infrastructure.
Cloud computing can help utilities save energy by improving server utilization. It also reduces the use of paper by facilitating automated and online payment services.
How Can Utilities Adopt the Cloud Successfully?
Perform a Return-On-Investment Analysis
Switching to cloud computing may not result in cost savings for every company. As such, utility companies should consider all the costs involved in implementing a cloud computing system before they start converting. They can try out a few cloud services first to find out whether or not the cloud is a beneficial solution for them.
Choose the Right Cloud Provider
It is essential that utility companies select cloud providers that can help them meet their long-term business needs. The ideal cloud provider should be reliable and financially stable, as well as competent in improving functionality and integrating information across different technological platforms.
Create a Clear Structure for Cloud Computing Management
In order to use the cloud more effectively and efficiently, utilities need to establish well-defined plans and rules for managing their cloud computing systems. They have to decide how decision-making rights and responsibilities should be delegated among the members of their IT departments.
Set Standards for Cloud Computing Success
Utility companies also have to make sure that their IT departments have a clear idea of the quantitative and qualitative benefits they seek in adopting cloud computing. Some of the goals they should establish include value achieved, projects completed, risks addressed and skills developed.
Monitor Cloud Computing Activities
By monitoring their cloud computing activities, utilities will be able to determine if their cloud computing systems are truly contributing positively to their businesses. If they are not getting the results they want, they can make changes to their cloud computing strategies.
Cloud computing can be very beneficial to both utility companies and their customers. Utilities that adopt the cloud earlier will have a clear advantage over their competitors.
About the Author: John McMalcolm is a freelance writer who writes on a wide range of subjects, from cloud computing to biographies of successful business executives such as Charles E. Phillips.
HyNet North West and InterGen to build Zero Carbon plant
Expected to begin in the mid-2020s, the partnership could reduce the CO2 emissions from the Runcorn power station by over 150,000 tonnes each year, the equivalent of taking 60,000 cars off the road every year.
Situated across one of the UK’s largest industrial areas which supports the highest number of manufacturing jobs of any UK region, HyNet North West will bring clean growth to safeguard jobs, and create thousands of new employment opportunities.
Following a commitment of £72 million in funding, HyNet North West will transform the North West into the world’s first low carbon industrial cluster, playing a critical role in the UK’s transition to ‘net zero’ greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and the global fight against climate change.
HyNet North West will begin decarbonising the North West and North Wales region from 2025, replacing fossil fuels currently used for electricity generation, industry, heating homes and transportation with clean hydrogen. The project will also capture and lock up carbon which is currently emitted into the atmosphere.
It anticipates that by 2028, Rocksavage will have enough hydrogen produced by HyNet to move towards a 100% net zero power generation power station as the Gas Turbine technology becomes available.
InterGen’s Rocksavage Plant Manager Dan Fosberg said Rocksavage has been safely generating energy to power the north west for nearly 25 years, but in order to meet the UK’s net zero targets, traditional generation needs to adapt.
"HyNet North West will allow us to pivot our operations as we transition to a low-carbon world. The proximity of the Rocksavage Power Plant to the HyNet North West hydrogen network provides us with an exciting and unique opportunity," he said.
As soon as the first stage of the hydrogen network is available at Runcorn, InterGen intends to modify the existing generating plant to consume a blend of hydrogen with natural gas and start to reduce our emissions.
The HyNet North West project milestones mean that Rocksavage could be the first plant in the UK to blend Hydrogen with natural gas, a step forward for the industry in the target for net-zero. Once the gas turbine technology becomes available, it will explore options with HyNet North West to create a zero emissions power station using 100% hydrogen.
The project will play a big part in supporting Liverpool City Region in its commitment to reach zero carbon by 2040 and accelerate the UK’s transition to net zero by 2050.
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region, said: “Putting the Liverpool City Region at the heart of the Green Industrial Revolution is one of my top priorities. With our existing strengths in green energy, we have the potential to become the UK’s renewable energy coast.
“I am committed to doubling the number of green jobs in our region and exciting projects like HyNet will be a key part of that. We’re going to lead the way, not only in doing our bit to tackle climate change, but in pioneering new and innovative technology that in turn attracts more jobs and investment to our region.”
David Parkin, HyNet North West Project Director, said HyNet North West will play a big part in tackling climate change regionally. "It will ensure the region remains an attractive location for investment and for companies to grow through the establishment of a clean economy, protection of skilled jobs and creation of thousands of new long-term employment opportunities.
“Our partnership with InterGen at Rocksavage shows just how great an impact HyNet will have on the region – decarbonising homes, workplaces, travel and industry.”
HyNet North West is a low carbon energy project at the forefront of the UK’s journey to a Net Zero future, being developed by a consortium comprising Progressive Energy, Cadent, Essar, Inovyn, Eni, University of Chester, CF Fertilisers and Hanson.