Until now the communicative relationship between energy industries and their technology was largely a one-way street. For the nuclear sector today, however, utility operations and performance can be monitored and reported back via IoT platforms connected to the Internet.
Developments in sensory and communications networks, data, and analytics are making it possible for engineers and designers to make equipment and machinery ‘smart’, so it can analyze data and adjust itself - or discuss with other relevant smart objects - accordingly.
The rapidly growing Internet of Things ecosystem promises real solutions for reducing energy consumption, distributing energy more efficiently and revitalizing an energy infrastructure that is in some cases dangerously outdated.
The Internet of Things has officially taken hold of the utility industry, as well as the energy consumer. The energy sector today is massive, complex, unwieldy and often inefficient, but connected technologies - capable of sending and processing information independently - have revealed new approaches to tackling some of the most difficult issues.
More than 300 million electric, water, and gas meters are in service in the United States today. Each meter is a source of powerful data that can be captured and analyzed. Smart meters have showed promise in the possibility of fine-scale monitoring, allowing utility companies to manage energy distribution on a nearly real-time basis.
Sensors built into generation and distribution systems can improve predictive analysis, identifying potential failures before they occur and easing the burden of managing equipment. Even the humble utility pole may become more intelligent, sensing when an accident or failure has occurred and notifying the managing utility company in order to speed up response times.
As developing nations strive to industrialize, the world stands at a climate crossroads: how to meet skyrocketing demand via more sustainable means? Use of nuclear power has broadened considerably across the globe, even growing within the United States. Renewable energy in the form of solar and wind is also on the rise. However, the push for more renewable power generation delivers savings in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, but not cost.
With energy demands expected to increase by as much as 50 percent over the coming decades, the complexities of generating, managing and distributing “clean” energy will only intensify. By adopting IoT platforms,a more in-depth smart metering of available renewable power at any given time will be available. “By knowing the phase angle of voltages at critical points in the transmission network [our] operators can understand where the actual stability limit is and operate closer to it.”
The Internet of Things allows utilities to better analyze when and how their energy is used, ensuring they can tailor production to meet demand more efficiently. The same tools can also be used to create more accurate usage projections, facilitating the sale of excess power and reducing waste caused by outdated forecast methodologies.
The benefits of IoT frameworks extend to individual homeowners as well as large urban municipalities. What can be done with pipelines and pumps is also applicable to everyday household appliances. Home automation systems predict user behavior, addressing energy concerns before they make it out the front door. In the near future, thermostats, hot water heaters, refrigerators and other appliances that are always on may even be able to communicate with the larger energy grid, strategically adjusting their energy consumption based on supply and demand in real time.
The emerging “Energy of Things” holds promise of a safer, more efficient power system. Using new technology to improve the visibility of energy enables the industry to better identify waste and take action so that resources can be allocated more closer to the actual demand needs.