Doing more of the same isn’t the answer anymore. The energy mix of most countries across the globe is still dominated by fossil fuels. But, as we know, this is warming our planet faster than anything. Now energy and utilities face fundamental disruptions to their business models, revenue streams and regulatory compliance to be able to reduce emissions by almost 50% by 2050 and grow responsibly. IoT comes to the rescue so that they can be more efficient and cost-effective.
Power and utilities affordability is an urgent global issue. Not just because of war led energy crisis but also because increasing severe weather events which can drive up costs via spikes in demand, fuel shortages and disruptions.
Making matters more complicated is the fact that distributed renewable generation and electric vehicle charging are beginning to make the supply and demand situation much more volatile and unpredictable.
Thus, as the market evolves, energy and utilities companies are learning how to leverage artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) to respond to these externalities, improve their operating models and capture new revenue streams. No need to say that their ultimate goal is becoming more agile, resilient, and competitive not to get left behind.
Yet reevaluating their processes to boost clean energy while customers seeking better value are pressing governments and regulators to cap energy and utility prices is not plain sailing. Cloud technology, digital twins, IoT devices and simulation software present some opportunities to tackle the challenges ahead.
First of all, by providing a clear and reliable control of methane emissions. Adrian Fielding, General Manager Emissions Control & Reduction at Honeywell and featured speaker at the IOT Solutions World Congress 2023 (IOTSWC23), highlights that “IIoT devices are providing automated, continuous and actionable data to baseline methane emissions that can be baselined and subsequently reduced.”
Yet these “devices must be able to provide quick and accurate data from the heart of process operations. By doing so you achieve greater visibility of both fugitive and process emissions in near real-time. This, in turn, drives profitability from reduced emissions, lower carbon taxes and efficiencies through process optimization,” he says.
Then, having critical information on emissions, utilities companies can benefit from other technologies. In this sense, Shyam Varan Nath, who will be running a panel entitled Driving Energy Eco-system Transformation and Security using Digital Twins for Nuclear Energy at IOTSWC23, is convinced that “Digital Twins built on top of IoT Platforms, for energy generation equipment, can improve the efficiency of the electricity value chain.”
In fact, this expert from Deloitte Consulting considers that with the increasing push for renewable sources of energy “a Digital Twin of a wind turbine and a wind farm can increase the energy generation and reduce the maintenance cost, over its 20–25-year life.”
How come? “A wind turbine gearbox failure can be prevented by proper oil change. By sensing the viscosity and particulate level of the oil, via appropriate sensors, the Digital Twin can optimize the timing of the oil change in the wind turbine. This helps reduce the downtime of the wind turbine and the overall maintenance cost,” he explains. This approach can also be used for solar and hydroelectricity as the speaker underlines in his book Building Industrial Digital Twins.
In any case, being able to rely on accurate data and advanced analytics to make fact-based decisions is critical to transform the energy and utilities sector. On top of this, this shift creates the need to strengthen cybersecurity as more data is used and exposed to cyberthreats.
In 2023, supply chain snags, rising costs, and extreme weather phenomena are likely to continue plaguing energy and utilities companies. But technology innovation in IoT, IA or 5G communications as well as investment coupled with changes in legislation across different countries promise to bring not only acute challenges but also exciting opportunities to providers.
What’s more, any company willing to control skyrocketing energy costs and predict spikes should look into IoT, as Carles Miranda, Industry 4.0 & circular economy Manager at the Catalan Agency for Business Competitiveness, says.
Energy choices might be the make or break of a potentially successful future. The IOT Solutions World Congress, to be held in Barcelona from 31st January to 2nd February, will definitely help you navigate this transformative moment.
By Anna Solana