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What a digital twin is and how it accelerates utility digitalization

DSOs are increasingly looking to digitalization to meet new demand, make smarter investments and improve productivity. Digital twin technology has a particularly interesting role to play in the digitalization journeys of DSOs when combined with an effective overall foundation and approach. Read more about the high-level digitalization strategies that go hand in hand with digital twins.

This blog post will answer common questions you might have about digital twins, the application of digital twin technology in the utilities industry and what to look for in a digital twin solution. This way, it will be easier for you to find the best solution for your needs and get the most out of this promising technology.


What is a digital twin?

A digital twin is a complete virtual replica of physical assets and processes and their dynamic behaviour in a specific environment. For DSOs, this involves visualizing the power grid and running simulations. Digital twin technology can be traced back to the use of physical twins by NASA during the Apollo missions to develop life-saving solutions for the Apollo 13 crew.

What do digital twins do?

Digital twins improve the accuracy, accessibility and effectiveness of simulations by contextualizing and visualizing data. For a digital twin, data contextualization means taking existing data from multiple sources and bringing it all together to make it easier to interpret and use for all stakeholders from anywhere. Data visualization means taking data that may have previously only been available in raw or number format and presenting it visually in a more user-friendly manner.

How are digital twins used in the utilities industry?

Your complete grid model and various other data sources are ingested and contextualized in the digital twin. This is combined with load and production forecasts and used to perform a full load flow analysis on the entire system. The result is a complete visualization, providing actionable insights and applications that enable more efficient grid planning and operations. In a virtual replica of the entire grid, DSO employees can try changing parameters in the digital twin and see the impact and what changes it would cause before implementing them for real in the live system.


What are the benefits of using a digital twin in the utilities industry?

Some of the ways DSOs benefit from digital twin technology are the capability to:

  • Mitigate the risk of outages, voltage deviations and congestion by identifying bottlenecks in the grid before they occur using continuously updated load and production forecasts
  • Cut maintenance costs with predictive analytics
  • Minimize the cost of energy not supplied (CENS) with smart decision support
  • Optimize the utilization of flexible assets by testing the impact of activation on the original issue
  • Increase data quality across systems by gaining insights into missing or incorrect data
  • Accelerate customer connection requests with automated grid capacitycalculations
  • Make data accessible and understandable to all stakeholders by democratizing data


How much can utilities benefit from digital twins?

A survey of multiple industries including utilities by CapGemini found that digital twins improved the following metrics by about 15%:

  • Operational efficiency
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Sales
  • Turnaround time
  • Sustainability

What should I look for in a digital twin solution for utilities?

A digital twin solution for the utilities industry should be built on interoperable and scalable standards, such as the Common Information Model (CIM) interface. This is important for ensuring interoperability with your utilities industry-specific data and applications. A digital twin provider that embraces CIM and has an open approach also gives you the freedom to always choose the best solution and not have your data locked in with a specific vendor.

What should I look for in a digital twin solution provider for utilities?

Accenture’s Technology Vision 2022 for utilities points to the need for utilities to choose a strategic partner to build a digital twin that goes beyond data, leveraging AI in a more visible manner. Given that a digital twin should be a key part of a long-term digitalization journey, you should also look for a strategic partner that can offer useful advice and support over time. This way, you can get the most out of your investment in digital twin technology.

Learn more about how to get started, what to expect and get inspired by the successes of other industries with similar challenges on their digitalization journey in our latest blog post.

> The DSO digitalization journey – how to move forward


Our Kognitwin Grid is a digital twin solution tailored to the utilities industry. Kognitwin has a CIM interface and everything you need to get more out of your existing grid infrastructure, mitigate risks, cut costs, improve quality and achieve other benefits. Learn more about what the Kognitwin Grid is capable of and how we at Kongsberg Digital can support you as a strategic partner by booking a demo. 

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