The way the world produces and consumes energy is changing quickly and IoT is revolutionizing nearly every part of the industry from generation to transmission to distribution and changing how energy companies and customers interact.
Projections show that the global value of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the energy market is expected to grow from an estimated 20.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2020, to 35.2 billion U.S. dollars by 2025. The current and potential impact of IoT on the energy sector is hard to underestimate.
This is the first of a three part series, where we will discuss how the data generated by IoT will affect and transform all stages of power supply. In this part we will focus on the energy generation stage.
Transforming Energy Generation
There are three major sources of energy generation for electricity; fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil), nuclear energy, and renewable energy sources (wind, solar, hydropower, biomass and geothermal). Most energy generation today comes from power plants that convert the source of fuel into electricity.
As population continues to grow and the threat of climate change becomes ever pressing, companies are under increasing pressure to better manage resources and switch to greener energy sources.
Incorporating IoT across connected power plants can help the energy sector in achieving affordability, sustainability and reducing the use of fossils and emissions.
Enabling remote monitoring of generation equipment
Given how geographically dispersed renewable sources of energy such as solar, hydropower, geothermal and wind farms are, physically monitoring each asset becomes almost impossible. Implementing IoT sensors on generation equipment enables companies to determine the performance of the power generating assets, no matter their location.
Connected sensors can also be used on generation systems to measure wear, tear, vibration, temperature, and other parameters. This type of data enables companies to determine the overall health of these systems, and identify when there’s an issue.
Combined with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), patterns in performance can begin to be identified which will provide energy companies with the insight needed to predict potential failures before they become critical, allowing for maintenance to be completed on an as-needed basis. This strategy further increases operational efficiency and prevents expensive and unplanned outages.
Improved energy efficiency
To move towards a new smarter and efficient energy generation model, companies need to move away from matching demand with supply, towards meeting supply with demand. In the traditional model, as demand increased during peak hours, the power plant began creating more energy. However, this approach tends to lead to wastage. Through leveraging IoT, demand and peak periods could be predicted, allowing energy providers to better match supply and demand.
Management of renewable energy
Today, the energy sector is highly dependent on fossil fuels, constituting nearly 84 % of final energy globally. However, a key goal for the industry is to reduce the use of fossil fuels for power generation and move towards more renewable sources.
Industrial IoT can play a significant impact on reducing the carbon footprint of energy generation through better management and allocation of renewable sources to help reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
The development in IoT solutions within the energy sector is growing exponentially and the long-term benefits that can be harnessed from the resulting data are far reaching.
By taking advantage of the power of IoT, the energy sector has huge potential to transform their environmental impact and help make the production of energy greener, cheaper, more efficient and sustainable.