Project Management

5 tips for DSO:s that no longer think that life is that good


As a DSO (Distribution System Operator) in Europe you have been able to work in the same way for more than a century. Now, the DSOs have had an awakening and it’s almost as they are in the midst of Europe’s old song “Prisoners in paradise” where some very striking lines go like this;  ”Now I realize that I can’t turn back, the future is here to stay. We’re just children of tomorrow, hanging on to yesterday!”.
These are the thoughts of IMCG’s Ulrika Wahlström. She leads the work package “Outreach and Business Innovation” in the H2020 project United-Grid where actors in Sweden, the Netherlands and France collaborate focusing on the smart grids of the future. 

In the song “Prisoners of paradise” Europe’s lead singer Joey Tempest also sings that “life don’t come easy anymore” and that is probably how the people running DSOs in Europe are feeling. For more than a hundred years, DSOs have been operated in about the same way. Year 2019 that is not possible any longer. A DSO can’t turn back, because the future is here to stay. DSOs are children of tomorrow, but they’re still hanging on to yesterday.  It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. DSOs are no exception, they too, are affected by a world that is changing at an increasing speed.

“It is obvious that digitalization makes it possible to go from a grid with relatively low IQ to a very intelligent grid.  Now I’m bantering, but we are standing on the edge of a rather radical change in work methods, business models and attitude towards the customers,” says Ulrika Wahlström, project innovation manager, IMCG.

It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks. The DSOs are very traditional and are not organized to ease the implementation innovative solutions.

A smart DSO is set to meet the future (that is already here)
IMCG works with smart grids in the project United-Grid and the fall of 2019 we’ll start the project Flexi-Grid. In United-Grid we work with a toolbox of smart solutions that is to be plugged-in, almost as a piece of lego, in the already existing infrastructure of the DSOs. This is a cost-effective way of investing in the solutions of the future in order to be able to handle renewable energy, prosumers and cyber security. And much more.
“But, it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks. The DSOs are, if you generalize, very traditional and not built or organized to handle new innovations. We are now looking into the barriers a DSO need to overcome in order to adopt the innovations that make their future existence possible,” says Ulrika Wahlström.

Five tips for how you as a DSO can work in order to better handle innovations
Continuing on the Europe-metaphore, you could say that DSO:s are facing “The final countdown”. It’s time to act. Here are a few tips on what you, as a DSO, can do.

  • Have a clear strategy on how innovations are to be implemented in your organisation
  • Provide an environment that helps the growth of an innovation culture throughout the organisation
  • Enhance possibilities for knowledge transfer
  • Do your market research and adjust the plan according to new technologies, rules and regulations
  • Create an innovation eco-system and surround yourself with actors that complement your own abilities


Link to Europe’s song “Prisoners of paradise” .

Lin to  United-Grid’s website.

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