GlobalData explores VR potential in power industry

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Virtual reality (VR) use cases in the energy industry are likely to be limited to employee training in the future, according to a new report from market intelligence firm GlobalData.

Quick read

➨ The Electric Power Research Institute is working with major utilities such as Duke Energy and others on how VR can fit into the industry’s workforce

➨ There is a strong focus on nuclear power plants, which will help to restrict nuclear workers’ exposure

➨ Siemens’s COMOS Walkinside—a 3D VR visualisation software solution—offers a virtual environment for immersive training sessions for power plant operators

The story

In its latest theme report, Thematic Research: Virtual Reality in Power, GlobalData predicts that VR will play a big role in helping the energy industry to deliver workforce training and education over the next decade, with the immersive tech market set to be worth $28 billion by 2030.

GlobalData senior power analyst Sneha Susan Elias pointed to the work of the Electric Power Research Institute with major utilities such as Duke Energy, Consolidated Edison, EDF, Korea Electric Power Corporation and others on how VR can fit into the industry’s workforce.

Elias added: “Many VR devices manufacturing firms are also making huge investments in VR such as Google, Facebook, Sony, HTC, among others with VR headsets, and other devices being largely developed and experimented for numerous applications.”

Many power utilities and companies are using VR for training, according to GlobalData, with a strong focus on nuclear power plants, which will help to restrict nuclear workers’ exposure.

Elias explained: “Operator training along with design validations at NPPs can now be performed in an effective manner with the help of VR.  In August 2019, the Finnish utility Fortum built the world’s first high-definition VR simulator at its Loviisa NPP in Uusimaa, Finland, for training its control room operators.”

Other examples of the energy industry using VR include Duke Energy’s metrology team, located at Oconee, for imaging of nuclear power plant systems and components.

EDF’s research and development team has developed a digital innovation, ‘VVProPrepa – a VR tool’, that makes use of video gaming technology to offer tours of nuclear reactor buildings, utilising maps, panoramic photos, laser scans and 3D models.

Elias said: “Consolidated Edison is utilising VR training to make their workforce ready for real dangers, enhancing safety and proficiency. PG&E, a major Californian utility, is working with a California-based internet of things startup (now acquired by Nokia), Space-Time Insight to utilise plant data along with VR technology to offer a faster and safer way for utility personnel to examine equipment, reducing the probability of technicians getting injured or harmed.”

Siemens’s COMOS Walkinside—a 3D VR visualisation software solution—offers a virtual environment for immersive training sessions for power plant operators.

Elias concluded: “The number of assets which are maintained or monitored is on the rise, and power utilities are increasingly witnessing the inclusion of renewable energy sources, electric vehicles and distribution control equipment. However, much of this new equipment is fitted with sensors, and sensors are also retrofitted into older assets. This data can be used in VR models of critical assets.”

Image credit: Antoine Boissonot / Unsplash

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