Over the next 25 years, the global energy consumption is estimated to soar by 40%, and unless we don’t stumble upon a vast coal mine, there is no way we can fulfil this requirement.
You may be thinking: “Renewable energy will do the job for us.”
Yes, renewable energy are paving the path for a more sustainable future, however, their mass adoption is still limited due to several barriers. They are highly dependent on natural occurrences, require a high capital investment, and are inflexible with traditional energy grids. It can’t be said with certainty when these limitless sources can be used to a full extent for our ever-growing electricity needs.
Till the time we overcome these barriers and adopt the renewables entirely, optimal and efficient utilization of non-energy resources is the only prominent option to stretch our days of existence with power supply.
Utilities are continually looking for a technological enabler that can help them optimize their processes and manage assets remotely. IoT is one such technology that is helping power generation companies to do so.
With its advanced telemetry and cognition capabilities, energy utilities can boost their energy transmission and distribution processes to facilitate the efficient flow of electricity and reduce energy wastage.
Let us see the ways with which IoT can help utilities for adequate electricity supply:
1) Remote Asset Monitoring and Management:
This is primarily the most talked-about application of an IoT system. It allows energy companies to remotely manage their equipment; ranging from power generators to transmission lines. Sensors embedded on assets can measure parameters like temperature, vibration, pressure, wear, etc. that can be read by the utilities to identify the probable breakdown point.
This enable utilities to monitor the depreciation of their assets and govern the overall health of their power transmission and distribution architecture. By compiling the continuously stored data, insights and trends can also be generated to estimate the failure time. Subsequently, inspection and maintenance procedures can be scheduled to eliminate failures and reduce downtime.
Furthermore, by planning their repair and maintenance tasks as per IoT based real-time alert system, power generation companies can even reduce energy losses and enhance their operational efficiency. This helps them to optimize the consumption of their resources and facilitate the flow of electricity from power plants to consumers’ facilities in an efficient manner.
2) Grid Balancing and Supply Rerouting/Restoring:
Smart Grids are a modern IoT variant of the existing power grids that include several energy measures and smart appliances like smart meters. Their implementation in the infrastructure of power distribution and transmission makes the flow of electricity from power plants to the end consumers more efficient and reliable.
However, there benefits far exceeds then simply supplying the electricity from one place to another. They allow utilities to lower operational costs and help customers to manage electricity consumption at home.
In terms of making the flow of electricity more efficient and promote optimum resource utilization, smart grids are the initial choice. As they work on a two-way interaction, they can effectively manage congestion on the power lines. They are even capable of ensuring the connection requirements of the generation stations such as frequency and voltage control to prevent instability.
Furthermore, the smart grids offer astounding electricity rerouting and restoring advantages. In case a transmission line breaks due to adverse weather conditions or voltage fluctuations, smart grids can find another route to transmit electricity to a locality. Other than facilitating a constant power supply, utilities can also use this feature of smart grids to identify causes that result in energy fluctuations. This empowers energy companies to reduce fluctuations that result in wire failure and hence boost their asset utilization efficiently.
Smart Grids also enable the indulgence of renewable energy resources. Let us see how:
3) Renewable energy management:
As we discussed earlier, the IoT infuses two-way dialogue system in an existing electricity distribution channel. This means that instead of merely supplying power to the users and bill them once a month, the IoT system enables both the utilities and consumers to share information.
“In layman terms, even the end-users can now contribute to a smart grid.”
The most significant advantage of using smart grids is its ability to include renewable energy resources to an existing power grid. Thus, end consumers using solar panels to power their home appliances can discharge excess electricity into the power grid in exchange for money. Many countries like USA and India are providing subsidies to end consumers for creating a small-scale solar power station on their rooftops.
This is assisting in the mass adoption of renewable energy resources, which other than alleviating energy scarcity can also help in reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. Since smart grids act as a stable infrastructure to maintain voltage fluctuations, they can be used to manage the electricity flow from both renewable and conventional methods.
My Personal Opinion:
“As per marketsandmarkets, IoT in the energy market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 24.1% to reach a value of USD 22.34 billion by the end of 2020.”
This showcase the potential that IoT can offer to the vertical of electricity transmission and distribution. Its implementation has the power to facilitate our energy needs and reduce our consumption to a great extent. As per a study by environmental impact assessment (EIA), by effectively utilizing existing IoT technologies, the industries in the US have reduced their coal energy consumption for producing electricity by 14 to 22%.
Similarly, as smart consumers, we can also implement smart meters and IoT based energy monitoring solutions at our homes and facilities to monitor overall power consumption and manage needs accordingly.
This can be the initial step to enjoy limitless power. Let us contribute by joining the IoT revolution and make our homes & industries smart for a sustainable future.