As the pressure on reducing carbon emissions and crafting a greener future intensifies, companies in the energy and utility space are looking for ways to build smarter grids and multiply renewable energy production. They are also conscious of the need to engage a new generation of consumers used to more digital experiences and software-driven methods.
They recognize that to successfully do this, they need to drive processes efficiently and embrace digital technology innovations across the value chain. One technology that is really changing the game for them is IoT.
The potential for IoT in the energy and utility space is enormous
The energy and utility sector is increasingly experiencing disruptive changes. Expanded utilization of renewables, versatility issues, consumer focus, and sustainability concerns are some of the top concerns facing companies in this sector, and digital transformation is the single greatest empowering agent of that change. Not only has the digital age made the creation of smart grids possible, but it has also opened doors to unearthing real-time insights to improve operational performance and customer experiences.
Along with all the technologies that the energy and utility sector is embracing, IoT is transforming how grids are managed and monitored. Using sensors, IoT is allowing for remote and real-time monitoring of production; such monitoring is helping energy companies improve asset utilization, optimize energy generation, and also enhance risk management.
IoT, when combined with renewable energy software, is further paving the way for smart energy management, helping organizations revolutionize how energy is produced and consumed. That said, let’s look at the opportunities IoT presents to companies in the energy sector:
- IoT sets the scene for better process monitoring and thus better resource optimization. Using sensors, energy and utility companies can remotely monitor their grids and get detailed insight into plant performance – in real-time. This data, when presented via dynamic dashboards and reports, helps to quickly identify non-conformities within plants.
- Sensor-based monitoring via IoT also helps energy companies optimize asset utilization. Since data from assets can be collected and processed continuously, it helps decision-makers optimize energy generation and planning.
- IoT, when integrated with smart metering, allows the power sector to better forecast consumption patterns. This data can be used to strike the right balance between demand and supply – mitigating unnecessary energy consumption and reducing waste.
- The technology also allows companies to have greater control over power flow and optimize production processes. By matching energy load to real-time demand, it helps curb energy consumption in significant ways while allowing power companies to minimize environmental impact.
- IoT also facilitates energy companies to measure carbon consumption in real-time. By constantly gathering and processing production data, it enables them to take steps in the right direction. Through proper management of energy consumption patterns and resources, it promotes conservation practices for a greener and more sustainable future.
But implementation isn’t without challenges
Embracing the world of IoT might completely transform the energy sector. But building a connected web of intelligent sensors isn’t without challenges. Let’s look at the challenges that come in the way of successful IoT implementation:
- Executive (and employee) support: Successful IoT deployment in the energy sector demands equal support from leaders and front-line workers. Leaders need to be able to craft a strong IoT vision and workers need to be able to believe in that vision and work towards achieving it. The lack of support can lead to improper, inefficient, or costly implementation – which impacts the overall effectiveness of energy production and management.
- Cost constraints: IoT, no matter how beneficial for the sector, is also a costly technology. While a handful of sensors might seem easy to purchase and implement, when you have to implement hundreds across multiple, dispersed grids, the costs surge exponentially.
- Power consumption: Although IoT can help optimize production, the devices themselves are known to consume substantial power. Despite most devices running for months (or even years) on a single battery, companies are often hibernating devices or minimizing the use of high-power radio chips like Wi-Fi. But this impacts the ability of the devices to process critical data.
- Security concerns: Many IoT devices have unpatched vulnerabilities which put the entire energy ecosystem at risk. The reasons for this are many; patches are either not available or are difficult to access and install. Many companies also continue to use default passwords, giving cybercriminals an easy way to access and exploit critical energy data.
- Complex management: IoT devices are also difficult to manage and monitor. With skill shortage a constant given in the energy sector, setting up and activating devices is a growing challenge. So is managing device battery, updating firmware, and monitoring device health – which minimizes the effectiveness of the IoT ecosystem.
For the energy and utility sector, IoT represents a new reality, carved by real-time applications and state-of-the-art innovations. Using intelligent sensors and gateway connectivity, helps companies derive actionable insights and use them to power efficiency and productivity. It further improves real-time decision-making, streamlines complex operability, and allows for better energy management.
But IoT implementation also brings about some challenges that need to be addressed appropriately. Engaging with a qualified IoT implementation partner can help in overcoming these challenges and ensuring you get maximum results (and returns) from your IoT investment.
Learn how Pratiti’s domain leadership, innovations DNA, energy accelerators, and industry-leading execution framework can help your company build a compelling IoT ecosystem, so you can respond to shifting user preferences, comply with evolving regulations, and mitigate unforeseen risks today to stay relevant and sustainable tomorrow.