Aug 23.2021

Energy IoT: How Is The Internet of Things Transforming the Electric Power Industry?

Energy IoT: How Is The Internet of Things Transforming the Electric Power Industry?

The power sector is undergoing dramatic disruptions. On the one hand, consumption is skyrocketing and is expected to rise by 50% by 2050. On the other hand, thanks to the push for climate conservation and more intelligent solutions, the world is increasingly realizing that the traditional power systems in wide use today do not have a place in the future. Industry players are feeling the pressure of meeting the ballooning demand without the solutions they have used for decades.
Thankfully, new-age technology is driving efficiency in existing systems and providing solutions that make the transition to sustainable power easier for everyone across the supply chain. The Internet of Things, for instance, offers smart monitoring and data management solutions, with which energy providers can streamline operations, ensure safety, support sustainable power sources, and improve customer service.  

So, how is IoT impacting the electric power sector? What are some of the most compelling use cases for energy IoT today? Let's answer these questions below.  

IoT is Impacting Electric Power Generation, Distribution, and Consumption

The power sector started adopting data-driven control systems in the 1990s. Their purpose was to supervise controller performance by collecting and analyzing data, often through local area networks. Today, smart meters and sensors have advanced enough to feature wireless communication, enabling power operators to monitor real-time usage and manage customer connections remotely.

The primary drivers for energy IoT implementation are reliability, automation, safety, sustainability, and customer satisfaction. IoT solutions in electric power are delivering excellent results across all these segments.

1. Reliability
Power outages in the U.S. cost stakeholders $150 billion annually, and 25% of all outages result from equipment failures. Thankfully, IoT-powered smart meters and grid sensors can be valuable tools for reducing equipment-related outages. A typical smart meter comprises two primary components: an electronic metering device and a communication module, with which it can communicate with grid sensors, other meters, and the central power consumption and outage management system.  

Smart meters and grid sensors monitor equipment remotely to identify issues and quickly alert operators. By pairing with analytics software, these gadgets can detect circuit imbalances and power overloads to provide insights into malfunctioning circuits and support proactive maintenance and hasty fault fixing.  

One company pushing the limits of energy IoT for reliable supply is Florida-based Duke Energy. Its self-healing grid system uses sensors to detect problems at substations or power lines and alert the control system to isolate the faulty line section. The entire process happens autonomously and in less than a minute!  

2. Automation  
Imagine a power grid that can automatically balance supply and demand. IoT makes this futuristic concept a reality. Smart sensors deployed in key generation, transmission, and consumption points can deliver real-time updates about system status and performance and trigger control systems to make automatic adjustments along the supply chain. That way, power from substations can be redirected from low-demand to high-demand areas with little to no human intervention.  

IoT monitoring and control devices at end-user sites can also help to control consumption when supply is low or imbalanced. Energy IoT provider Open Energi offers customer-facing technology that interfaces with industrial equipment like pumps, heaters, and chillers and adjusts their consumption up or down to manage grid frequency imbalances.

3. Safety
Enhanced real-time system monitoring allows power operators to develop robust predictive maintenance models and proactively respond to potential dangers. Sensors can be deployed to track equipment operation parameters and deliver immediate alerts when an asset starts operating outside its safety limits. That way, team members can plan for repairs quickly and with a higher level of situational awareness.  

Power companies can also use intelligent, remotely-controlled robots to access hard-to-reach or hazardous areas and perform maintenance activities without endangering humans. Giant drone manufacturer DJI offers drones that inspect and monitor power assets like transmission lines and wind turbines at height, minimizing the risk for human workers.  

4. Sustainability
Thanks to the growing need for cheaper and more sustainable energy sources, traditional public grid customers are increasingly deploying renewable options like solar panels and windmills on their properties. Residents that can generate more than they need are selling the excess energy back to the grid for redistribution, further promoting clean energy utilization.  

For energy companies, IoT offers ideal solutions to wade through the challenges of managing both company-owned and distributed sources. By using smart meters to aggregate usage data across the grid, power providers can map users according to consumption rate and develop optimum distribution strategies and payment models.  

Africa GreenTec has gained significant recognition for its use of IoT to promote sustainable, intelligent electricity production in Africa's remote regions. The organization's smart grid utilizes smart meters to distribute, monitor, control, and bill generated energy throughout villages.  

With IoT eliminating most of the complexities of integrating public grids with microgrids, energy providers, developers, and investors are bound to increase their momentum toward sustainable grids.

5. Customer Satisfaction
Energy IoT can help customers be more informed about their power consumption. Consumer-facing smart meters can collect usage data and send it to customers, enabling them to track their consumption trends and make the necessary adjustments to stay on budget. Users can also install load monitoring devices in their homes or premises to measure consumption by each machine or appliance. With this information, they can identify waste points and deploy targeted improvements.  

UK-based Smart Metering Systems is leading the charge in the consumer-facing smart metering market. Its portfolio features meters that monitor power usage across a vast range of machines and appliances, including water heating systems, electric HVAC, cold rooms, cookers, and refrigerators.

Get Ready For The Future With IoT Power Solutions  

Energy IoT offers unprecedented opportunities for energy providers, partners, and consumers. In addition to improving current operations, it charts a solid course for the widespread adoption of sustainable power solutions.  

As IoT becomes more ingrained with power operations, the level of application and benefit will only get higher. Therefore, regardless of your position in the power value chain, investing in smart solutions is an excellent idea, especially now that the entire industry is working toward sustainability and efficiency.

Whether you own a power company or are simply a tech-savvy customer looking to cut energy consumption, you can count on IoT2Market for the solution you need. Sign up today, and join the IoT power transformation journey.

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