Itron Inspire EMEA 2022: Utility best practices and innovation

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The Itron Inspire EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) 2022 virtual event highlighted the important work being done within the water and energy sectors in the face of pressing challenges.

The conference, which was held from April 5th to the 6th, saw industry experts leverage their acumen within their respective fields to provide listeners an in-depth look into a variety of topics.

Ranging from advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) to electric vehicle (EV) grid integration and data analytics, the different sessions provided a wealth of information and advice on industry best practices.

EMEA key focus areas

Inspire conference opened on April 5th with the keynote session hosted by Tom Deitrich, Itron president and CEO.

“Keeping the lights on, keeping clean water flowing, keeping homes warm and cities safer and brighter is what we do as an industry…without our work society would break down. This is something to remember, it’s a sacred obligation,” Dietrich stated.

Across Itron’s nine key areas of activity, Deitrich highlighted three of them, all of which are relevant across the EMEA region:

  • Smart cities
  • Water resource management
  • Data and analytics

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Highlights

Of particular interest were three key talks:

  1. Sustainable transformation through next-generation AMI

    John Doyle, marketing executive for Itron outcomes portfolio in EMEA, mapped out the key challenges to building a case to move beyond meter-to-cash, as well as the importance of overcoming these challenges.

    Doyle highlighted three key challenges confronting utilities:

    a) Energy transition, which includes challenges for utilities to incorporate new renewables and distributed energy resources (DERs) onto the grid;
    b) Investment planning and execution;
    c) Security of supply and automation.
  2. Going beyond meter reading: be ready for your digitalisation journey

    “A big challenge, not only for water utilities but for Earth, is to protect [water itself]. It is precious, available for us, and so we have to care for [it],” stated Kamel Chaabane, senior product manager at Itron.

    Chaabane elaborated on the importance for utilities to consider what their metering devices offer and how best they can help with data collection and accurate analysis.

    In light of this, there are three ways utilities can accelerate their meter’s reading cycle:

a) Leverage map-based reading tools, which allow for faster, more accurate and secure tasks.
b) Synchronise data collected in the field as close as possible to real-time.
c) Secure and use an Android device to help keep reading tools under cost.

  1. Electric vehicle charging impacts the power grid

    The EV industry has been experiencing a surge of interest and investment.

    Mark Braby, global head of EV, payments and partners, alongside Manish Mohanpurkar, senior researcher at NREL, brought into question how to best manage charging and prevent blowouts, asset wear and tear and power outages.

    Charging management, stated Braby, is the key.

    “Charging management is key to the whole equation. It’s going to be all about managing constraints for utilities with constraints and needs for end customers. Fleets have huge commercial constraints to think about when they think about charging.

    “The last [thing] they want is for their vehicle to get stranded because of a load charge when delivering their goods or even when they have kids on the bus.

    “Once a plan is in place, [we need to operate] to that plan. Our vision is that there’s a push-pull between utility needs, grid needs and end-customer needs. That’s going to have to come together and be managed by intelligent software. And that’s how we accelerate EVs and EV charging.”

On demand sessions

As new innovations and projects come to be on the road to carbon neutrality, new problems will start surfacing requiring innovative solutions.

It is by sharing information and best practices that utilities and consumers alike can move forward and make their own contributions to the energy transition.

The Itron Inspire EMEA 2022 conference brought key players together to provide interested parties, whether new to the industry seeking best practices or a veteran looking to optimise their investments.

Each session is available as on-demand content until May 6, 2022.