4 Insider IT Insights for the Modern Power Plant
What’s the latest with IT in the power generation and energy industry? Whether you’re in plant management, operations, maintenance, or private equity, a modern IT infrastructure can be the difference between a plant that survives and one that gets left behind, so it’s important to be aware of trends and opportunities.
In a recent sit-down, Mike Spoont, president of ProArch, discusses his views on rising trends and opportunities ripe for the taking. Watch the video below to see the discussion, or keep reading for a brief overview.
The Roadblocks to Modernization
Modernizing IT infrastructure is often the last thing power plants want to deal with in the midst of many pressing to-dos. Additionally, the mammoth task can seem cost-prohibitive.
“Some might think [modernizing a plant’s IT infrastructure] is an ongoing investment you might want to shy away from, but why continue to build infrastructure internally when you can do some of the very same things with cloud?” Spoont said.
In the end, the upfront investment is worth the improvement to operations, and it may even decrease your costs of operating in the long run.
Going Beyond NERC Compliance
No matter what steps you take to modernize, you should keep two things in mind, Spoont explained: NERC compliance and cybersecurity best practices. The decisions you make shouldn’t focus only on maintaining operational efficiency but also on enabling the plant to continue running when setbacks occur, which is where those crucial best practices come into play.
How to Gain Meaningful Insights from Data
There is more data available than ever before. Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence enable plants to utilize their data to make faster and more intelligent decisions to optimize their operations.
“Lots of costs related to running a plant go to maintaining the operational components of the plant, primarily on the control side of the operation, not surprisingly,” Spoont said, adding that ProArch “can provide insights into the optimal times and types of maintenance for different times, [helping plants] manage their costs effectively.”
For example, meaningful data insights could help plants make the best investment decisions when it comes to things like changes in the climate.
Predictions for the Future of the Power Industry
What does Spoont predict will happen in the power industry in the next few years?
“Three words: cyber, cyber, cyber,” Spoont said. “It’s not getting any better out there. I will say that even the smaller plants are going to be targeted for folks who are interested in a variety of different goals, whether it’s just interrupting the critical infrastructure, taking advantage of ransomware attacks, you name it.”
NERC is doing its best to help players in the industry maintain their level of security by ensuring certain levels of compliance. And as you look at the NERC compliance stack from low to high, you can see plants implementing those standards. But even low-impact plants (or plants in the hydro or solar industries that don’t even rise to the level of low impact) need to take those crucial steps towards stronger cybersecurity.
So what’s the latest with IT in the power and energy industry? There’s a push (but a struggle) towards modernization, a need to prioritize both NERC compliance and power plant cybersecurity best practices, an abundance of data, and more cyber risks to look forward to in the future.
For more actionable insights and tips, download our whitepaper “Solving the IT Challenges Facing the Power Industry.”