Digital technologies have seen a tremendous development the last decades, and the global economy is increasingly digital. The technological advancement facilitates new opportunities, but also new challenges related to disruptive changes and integrating new business models in the traditional value chains. Powerful generic ICT tools exists which have revolutionised other business areas, for example media, banking services and music distribution. However, they are not used in the power system to any significant extent. It is therefore likely that the power system is facing a similar transformation. Norwegian actors in the power industry finds it crucial to participate in this process, both to be able to benefit from the possibilities the technology offers and to understand and actively influence the process. This also implies gaining a better understanding of the end users' role and opportunities in the power system, and the innovation opportunities associated with a better interaction between the network operators and customers in the formation of the flexible energy system of the future.
The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) has taken a crucial step towards the future energy system by deciding that all Norwegian households should have a smart meter installed by 1 January 2019. The rollout of smart meters is a large and demanding task for the network operators, and efficient operation and coordination of the meters themselves and the radio-based data collection systems are new challenges without previous experience. And unfortunately, there is a significant gap between the amount of data that is (and will be) available from the distribution network, and available solutions for handling the data and converting them to usable information for network operators, end users and other actors. The smart meters are primarily considered a tool for automatic and precise billing and reading of customer consumption on an hourly basis. However, they can provide many additional services. This infrastructure can therefore facilitate other assets by providing real-time data and build databases for historical data from the distribution network.
An average household has an electricity consumption profile with large peaks in the morning and evening, especially in winter. The network infrastructure requires large upgrades in some areas in the distribution network if it is going to be able to have enough capacity to supply all customers during these power peaks. But instead of performing costly upgrades on the network to be able to manage these relatively short-lasting peaks, the new meters can contribute to operate the network more efficiently and provide a basis for better decisions for operation and investment, which in turn will result in better reliability of supply and lower grid rental. The measurements performed by the meters can in addition reveal faults in installations and appliances, and prevent fire and personal injuries.