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Itron developing data uses to help decarbonize cities and utilities

Client: Itron
Region: North America
Industry: Energy Transition and Utilities

Smart endpoint data will deliver more accurate emissions tracking

Client challenge: Itron wants to leverage data from smart meters because generating insights is the key to sustainability and managing energy.
Solution: Itron is collaborating with Capgemini to perform a market analysis on decarbonization and ESG opportunities for utility systems.

Itron helps utilities and cities in more than 100 countries deliver innovative energy and water infrastructure solutions safely, securely, and intelligently through a portfolio of networks, meters, endpoints, sensors, and software.

Climate disruption has a significant impact on Itron stakeholders, and investors want more transparency around sustainability risks. New regulatory reporting requirements, and companies’ own net-zero ambitions, are also making ESG data more critical.

However, businesses working to drive more sustainable practices often use manual processes and spreadsheets to track the data – and that has real limitations. In response, Itron is collaborating with Capgemini to perform a market analysis on decarbonization and ESG opportunities for utility systems. The company is also working to build an ESG dashboard that will use information from next-gen smart endpoints to deliver better sustainability data and support more sustainable decision making.

“Decarbonization is a common goal across utilities and cities, and, because we serve such a large number of these clients, our sustainable solutions will have a huge impact, not just for cities and utilities, but for all the customers they serve,” says Luke Scheidler, Senior Product Manager, Itron.

Unleashing the potential of AMI 2.0

Using data is the key to sustainability and managing energy. Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) 1.0 provided more data to utilities than ever before. While that is a benefit, it also creates new challenges. How can companies get access to all this information, and then create value from it? Data access is a key challenge for ESG reporting, decarbonization, and distributed energy management.

Next-generation AMI features endpoints with embedded Linux computers that can sample data thousands of times per second and perform local processing, which enables them to not just measure total energy consumption but also analyze behind-the-meter loads and generation. This means these new systems go well beyond “AMI” to create true grid edge intelligence – including knowing how and when to shift loads to benefit the grid or to capitalize on periods of low carbon intensity. Itron’s goal is to make this information more accessible to drive sustainable innovation.

“Grid edge solutions provide better data and computational ability that allows us to analyze everything that is happening at the grid edge and make the appropriate decisions to control distributed energy resources accordingly,” Scheidler says. “Making the data available to end customers, third parties, and utilities can help them make better system-wide decisions and create more efficiency.”

ESG value for every stakeholder

Capgemini and Itron are targeting four main stakeholders for grid edge data: utilities, businesses, ESG service providers, and financial institutions. Capgemini is bringing its deep expertise in decarbonization and ESG, as well as experience in AMI and grid edge computing, to develop a comprehensive picture of what the market needs.

“Capgemini is a long-term Itron partner and helped develop the business case for AMI 1.0,” Scheidler says. “Now, with this new generation of distributed intelligence endpoints, there is a much broader space to explore, to create additional value. Capgemini is excellent at quantifying the value of AMI investments.”

The consumption data from smart endpoints can be translated into a more accurate measurement of emissions, which is valuable information for consumers and businesses. If a company sees the environmental impact of production levels at different times during the day, it can make more sustainable decisions.

For utilities, this data can also indicate where to invest in a new renewable energy farm or how to optimize distributed energy resources, because the downstream data on consumption allows them to match the supply of energy with the demand, including the emission impacts.

Financial institutions and ESG providers often depend on aggregations of imprecise and backward-looking data, and investment funds are often forced to rely on data scraped from websites. Getting auditable and accurate data and forecasts directly from utility sources will provide more specific emission details for reporting and investing purposes.

“We are trying to introduce a better granularity of data from the smart endpoint itself and provide emission data that is location, time, and industry specific,” Scheidler says. “For companies with locations in different cities, this is a much more accurate picture of their emissions.”

Better data, better ESG reporting

Itron is working with Capgemini to unlock value for multiple stakeholders. The ability for utility customers to decarbonize depends largely on the utility’s own decarbonization trajectory. Itron is working with utilities to help them understand how their decarbonization activities are impacting specific customers and industry segments. A utility that invests heavily in solar, for instance, does not actually result in decarbonization for industries that use the majority of their electricity at night. This same information, if made available to ESG service providers and financial institutions, can help them understand which industries in which regions might have a faster or slower path to decarbonizing.

The result of better processes is the energy ecosystem has more accurate reporting and insights into emissions to help build a more sustainable go-forward plan.