As a world that is heavily dependent on technology for our work as well as our personal well-being, there’s no doubt that we are consuming more energy than ever. And only we think we’ve reached the apogee of energy consumption; numbers are proving otherwise.
According to a report by Global Smart Energy, the energy consumption demands are expected to grow by 40% in the next 25 years. In some geographies, the demand is increasing by up to 100%.
As alarmingly humongous this number is, there’s no denying that we are undergoing an energy revolution that is set to revamp our energy production, distribution as well as consumption. Solar power and wind energy are replacing the conventional sources of creating energy, and that’s a relief. As we transition towards smart energy solutions, IoT or Internet of things is dramatically impacting the field.
Let’s talk about the impact of IoT in the energy industry
Remote Monitoring and Management
Remote monitoring of energy assets involved in the generation, transmission, and distribution is critical for reduced downtime, improved plant performance, and preventive maintenance.
According to a study, 40% of the failures happen in circuit breakers with a failure probability of around 90%. This means that only maintaining circuit breakers can help prevent failures to a large extent. By using analytics, i.e., collecting data from the site and regularly evaluating it remotely, can not only help detect potential damage to the plan-equipment but can also help save significant costs that are incurred after the breakdown.
With IoT devices, this is heavily streamlined. Affixing IoT sensors to energy equipment that measure vibration, temperature, and wear can significantly help in lowering down the failures, forecasting maintenance needs, and help in operating the plants at an overall higher efficiency.
General Electric makes use of sensors and APM software at its Monitoring & Diagnostics Center in Atlanta for around 600 power plants for problem prediction. This is just an example of how IoT is rapidly being adapted for remote monitoring in the energy sector.
The use of digital twin technology integrated with IoT can help in virtual troubleshooting support. Digital Twin is a groundbreaking technology that integrates IoT, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and software analytics to create a digital replica of an entity. In the case of the energy sector, digital twin technology can be widely put to use to optimize the maintenance and performance of physical assets. A digital twin will continuously feed off the data from multiple sources, synchronizing sensors, and continuously surveying to grasp the real-time operational status of the energy plants. A full digital twin of Energy plants can be created using IoT, or energy companies can start off by working around digital twins of vibration sensors or rotation machinery.
Reputed organizations such as Shell Chemicals have opted for digital twin in one of its construction projects in PA, USA. Shell Chemical is capturing a digital twin using reality modeling of the plan. This digital twin is used for process monitoring, progress tracking, and issue resolution. This is just one of the examples of how digital twin technology is set to disrupt the energy sector.
With the help of IoT devices, it is now possible to build completely autonomous and self-operating energy plants and oil drills. Fit with IoT-based smart sensors that detect the performance in real-time and adjusting its operational efficiency using AI can help in a highly optimized process without investing in human resources. Moreover, IoT-based drilling equipment can automate the drill depth, adjust to the conditions using algorithmic patterns, and eliminate the need for manual maneuvering.
Smart Grid Technology for a More Distributed Grid
According to a study by Credit Suisse, the residential solar capacity is set to increase more than 3 times by 2025. More and more individuals, homeowners, residential societies, and even business owners are gearing towards creating their own energy by installing solar panels. While this sustainable and renewable energy source is highly welcome, the grid operators have to now focus on managing the growing number of small generation resources across the grid.
This distributed energy transformation is supported and enhanced by the IoT-powered smart grid technology. IoT can be used to detect the variations in energy creation and consumption to achieve precision in the maintenance and management of a distributed grid.
Improved Grid Management
Along with being useful for a more distributed grid, IoT can also compellingly help to improve the overall grid management. By placing IoT sensors at substations and distribution lines, energy companies can make more courant arrangements on load distribution, switching, controlling voltage, and configuring networks. It can also, in fact, help in automating a few tasks for improved response time.
Safety and Disaster Prevention
Grid sensors can help in detecting power outages, damaged lines, and other physical hazards such as wildfires to prevent electrocution and other serious implications. Smart switching can help in rerouting from the problem areas, ensuring improved uptime. IoT-powered safety drones can also be deployed for hazard management to reduce human risk on nuclear power plants.
US-based PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric Company) used safety drones to detect methane leakage during the North Carolina wildfires. This is a good starting point for using IoT devices for the detection of hazards and preventing the repercussions to a large extent.
Just in the United States, electrical system power outages and interruptions cost more than USD 150 billion each year. For countries with growing populations and more conventional energy distribution systems, this number can be even bigger, causing large impacts. Smart grids powered with smart IoT-powered sensors can help in reducing the downtime and the impending costs that come along with it.
As the world transitions towards building and harboring smart cities, the dependence on energy is going to grow exponentially. Reduced downtime will no longer be an option, but a demand. Cities like Copenhagen, San Francisco, and Vancouver are also transitioning towards sustainable energy usage with the help of IoT-powered smart street lighting systems and electrified public transport.
Smart meters for Monitoring Data Usage on the Users’ End
In the United States of America, the residential sector consumes over 37% of the total energy usage in the country. With consumption as huge as this, it is imperative for the end-users to closely monitor their energy consumption and be informed about the usage. IoT-based smart meters can help in bridging this gap where the usage data collected is delivered to both the users and the providers. Users can have a detailed report for their energy consumption, install device-wise sensors to detect what is consuming the most power, and also make use of IoT-powered thermostats to optimize their energy use. The same can also be applied for commercial and industrial use cases, which are the next-largest consumers of energy.
As we move towards a more energy-dependent era, it is urgent and indispensable to find and embrace sustainable energy choices and scalable solutions to optimize energy usage. In this crusade, IoT is anticipated to serve as a significant aid, unquestionably. The rise of avant-garde technologies such as digital twins is set to revolutionize the way technology is perceived in the energy sector. From real-time predictive analytics to remote asset management, digital twins can unleash interesting opportunities to encompass asset utilization, predictive maintenance, and reduce costs incurred by equipment failure and the like.
At Pratiti, we help energy companies drive process and technology innovations across the value chain. Let’s connect to discuss more.
After successful 5 years stint in a corporate role, Nitin is back to what he enjoys most – conceptualizing new software solutions to solve business problems. Nitin is postgraduate from IIT, Mumbai, India and in his 19 years of career, has played key roles in building a desktop as well as enterprise solutions right from idealization to launch which are adopted by many Fortune 500 companies. As a Founder member of Pratiti Technologies, he is committed to applying his management learning as well as the passion for building new solutions to realize your innovation with certainty.