Few would dispute that the energy market has never faced a more uncertain future and has never been more challenging. The pressures for technological change imposed by climate change concerns have only grown over the years.
The current world situation is not helping with this either, after the Covid-19 pandemic followed by the lockdowns and the demand, supply chain and inflation issues that ensued from that. Then came the sanctions on Russian fuel supplies, causing massive market prices and fuel security disruption.
There is no question that the economic situation is not at its best. It means that society needs to strive even stronger for more sustainable generated electricity to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions.
Is renewable energy transition possible?
There are serious impediments that hold countries, people and economies from a clean energy transition. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), energy demand rose by 5% in 2021, with fossil fuels, particularly coal, accounting for nearly half of the increase, sending CO2 emissions from the power sector to new highs in 2022.
Now, more than ever, it is important to focus on the transition to renewable energy to replace the power made from fossil fuels. However, not all clean sources are so consistent. For example, wind and solar can generate energy to waste. Also, their energy storage might not be enough to exceed the renewable energy – when the sun goes down and the wind dies down.
The solutions are new technologies, IoT and a smarter power grid. A smart grid can better manage power demand, allowing renewable energy to be used when it is most plentiful and avoiding energy shortages. This requires setting adequate time to prevent blackouts by taking pressure off the grid during peak demand.
IoT helps shift into smart energy
The smart grid brings to mind the smart manufacturing or smart factories that improve their plants with advanced technologies and more sustainable industrial systems. Similarly, IoT technologies that allow factories, homes, and offices to connect to the internet and share real-time energy data also enable smart energy distribution throughout cities.
Individual buildings and items, infrastructure, transportation, and utilities may all be monitored via IoT. They could be linked to sensors to ensure energy efficiency through continuous data monitoring. Find out how different renewable energies combined with IoT enable the transition to a clean future.
The use of IoT in renewable energy generation
The use of IoT and AI has improved the efficiency of renewable energy distribution schemes. When paired with continuous monitoring of real-time data inputs, smart grid technologies have the potential to disrupt electricity production and distribution by accurately estimating power usage and forecasting supply and demand. For example, LoRaWAN technology allows for wireless connection of objects, sending alarms and monitoring reports.
Solar and Wind Powers
As was mentioned above, solar and wind electricity are not always sufficient. Their strength depends on the climate, forecast, where it is used, etc. However, both are great sources of alternative energies. The wind turbines can be installed both onshore and offshore, and the solar panels, transformers, inverters or other components can be monitored in real-time. With accurate equipment, such as programmable controllers, monitoring and addressing turbine faults can be easier.
Renewable energy systems such as solar panels and wind turbines can be made more efficient and cost-effective using IoT technology with machine learning capabilities and AI-backed analytics. The new improvements in IoT might aid grid efficiency in decreasing transmission losses in T&D networks via active voltage control. For advanced help to prevent problems and increase efficiency, it is worth looking into integrating Ethernet modules or wireless communication. Find more about the right devices for alternative energies here.
Switching to wind, water and solar worldwide could eliminate 4 to 7 million deaths from air pollution annually, while first slowing and then reversing the effects of global warming and, in doing so, stabilizing the global energy sector.World Economic Forum
There is a huge potential in water power, especially coming from the ocean, which could power the entire world twice over. Its single wave’s energy can charge an electric vehicle for hundreds of kilometres. Find out more about wave energy technology here.
Although, sending machines to the ocean threatens species that live in the Earth’s waters. By eliminating leaks (over 3 million water leaked each day) and monitoring water quality, digital water metres and sensors monitor reading and alert in the event of leak. Also IoT technology can also enhance access to clean water.
With its flexibility and energy storage services, hydropower is an excellent complement to variable renewables like wind and solar energies. Renewable hydropower is a cost-effective, dependable, and diverse clean electricity and water management source. Modern hydropower facilities contribute to the clean energy transition by providing crucial power, storage, flexibility, and climate mitigation.
Even though generation of hydroelectric power is not possible everywhere, there is certainly scope to expand the industry, and it is highly deserving of investment. Not only is it the cleanest of all power-generating technologies but just a fraction of the money spent in support of solar and wind power. With further R&D and the benefits of modern digital technology, huge efficiency improvements are achievable in the hydropower industry.
The tidal turbines can be controlled using data from sensors connected to the network. Tidal turbine blades can be automatically modified based on the intensity and direction of the tide. Pressure and flow through various valves, pumps, and pipes can also be monitored and adjusted in real-time to ensure safe and efficient operations. Intelligent systems enable real-time control and long-term aid maintenance by collecting performance data and sharing it with other monitoring, predictive maintenance, and M2M communication systems via open protocols.
IoT trends in the utility industry
As the world around us keeps changing, the most important sectors are the ones where we have control over them. If people want to live in a better world, it is crucial to care about the environment and control the power demand by finding new sources of energy that will be safe for the environment. Technologies such as IoT can help with that by enabling green microgrids, and smart gadgets that help energy networks and customers become more energy efficient in general, lowering energy consumption.
The main cause of air pollution comes from fossil fuels used to produce energy for transportation. It is why a lot of countries are moving from fuel to electric cars. According to the Guardian, as part of its far-reaching green agreement, the EU response to the climate issue, the European Commission suggested an end to new cars fuelled by petrol or diesel by 2035. You can read more about electric vehicles and their transition within countries in the Electric Vehicles Index.
Changes in the transportation industry are also happening thanks to smart solutions like IoT-enabled devices, such as GPS and RFID, smart parking systems, route optimisation, and vehicle maintenance. IoT-based management systems allow for optimum efficiency without using a lot of time and energy.
More environmentally friendly modes of transportation and innovative IoT solutions might be an easy and quick way to reduce CO2 emissions and other air pollutants associated with transportation.
Building management technology
The technology in a building often consumes a lot of energy. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) use the most energy in the whole building infrastructure. Using IoT sensors or actuators that are digitally connected to a centralised gateway for HVAC control allows for continuous asset monitoring where wireless networks eliminate the installation and maintenance costs associated with wired solutions. Read more about the connections here.
Another factor is building lighting. Starting from energy-saving bulbs and going to Wi-Fi-enabled LED lights, the smart lighting systems allow for saving energy that can be controlled based on schedules, motion, or sound to turn on and off as needed and reduce lighting energy consumption. Find out how technologically advanced switches can be connected to higher-level bus systems or PLCs.
The industrial and agricultural impacts are also on the list of most air pollution causes. Thus, factories and manufacturers are investing in more environmentally friendly machines and devices. Crucial then is investing in IoT-automated processes and data analysis attributes to predict and act fast where the old equipment is destroying the environment.
Smart technologies, such as AI, IoT, blockchain, machine learning, and digital twin, can help reduce air pollution and enable more robust operations. IoT-based equipment, such as human-machine interfaces, allows individuals to expand their creative and productive capacities while robots do routine tasks without human participation. On the other hand, sensors provide better metre control, data capture, analysis, and transmission to the cloud, making them “smart” metres.
Can a smart grid reach clean energy goals?
The progress toward a more sustainable way of working and living varies depending on countries and cities. Managing demand will become increasingly crucial in the drive to electrify houses, businesses, and transportation to run on renewable energy. Cities now have the opportunity and resources to provide inhabitants with sustainable services and high quality of life. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), more than half of the world’s population lives in cities, accounting for 65% of global energy demand and 70% of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
As a result, cities must act to fulfil expanding population demands while maintaining a healthy living environment, combating poverty, and preventing catastrophic climate change. Find out how clean energy sources provide energy to a city or town and discover Elektro-Automatik solutions that are based on regenerative energy recovery.