Nov 15.2021

The Climate Discussion: How can IoT Help Reduce Carbon Emissions?

The Climate Discussion: How can IoT Help Reduce Carbon Emissions?

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues today. This article looks into the dire need to reduce carbon output and how IoT solutions can contribute.

The world is getting warmer at an alarming rate. Icecaps are melting, sea levels are rising, and extreme weather events like floods, forest fires, and heat waves are happening more frequently than ever.

The BBC reports that global temperatures have increased by 3.6° F (1.2° C) and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by 50% since the 19th century. Moreover, NASA ranked the last decade as the warmest in history and 2020 and 2016 the hottest years on record.

This data indicates that action is not just required but critical for the planet's future. According to the United Nations, the best-case scenario is for global carbon emissions to fall by 40% to 70% within this decade. Achieving this feat requires an aggressive collaborative effort and extensive use of emerging technologies.

The Internet of Things has immense potential to combat the carbon emission crisis. IoT is about more than just improving everyday life with responsive, intelligent technology. Today, IoT innovators have taken an active role in the climate discussion by developing solutions that directly address pollution.

This article explores the dire need to reduce carbon output and how IoT solutions can contribute.

IoT Has Vast Potential to Reduce Carbon Emissions

COP26 wrapped up on November 12th, and the decisions made are already making headway as precursors of significant changes to everyday life. COP26, which stands for the 26th Conference of the Parties, was attended by all countries that signed the UN framework convention on climate change, a treaty laid down in 1994.

Unsurprisingly, reducing emissions was a top item on the summit's agenda. Global leaders agreed to push for the achievement of accessible, affordable, and reliable clean energy, zero-emission vehicles, and near-zero emission manufacturing across all regions.

The Internet of Things has much to offer key players as they pursue these critical goals. Read on for five compelling examples of how IoT solutions can contribute to lower emissions.

1. Smart Grids
According to Ericsson Research, the smart grid could single handedly cut greenhouse pollution by 3.9% by 2030. Smart energy supply networks, which can track variations in energy demand and adjust their output accordingly, provide significant energy-saving benefits in homes, businesses, and industries.

One small component of the grid, the smart meter, enables real-time communication between energy users and the system. When integrated with end-user devices, customers can know precisely how much power their machines and appliances use during different times and usage frequencies. With this information, they can develop more optimized power plans and meet their demand with less energy.

2. Industrial IoT (IIoT)

The manufacturing industry is one area where the IoT has made significant contributions in reducing carbon emissions. The Industrial Internet Consortium estimates that 71% of companies worldwide are either piloting or already using the Industrial Internet of Things within their operations. So far, these businesses have achieved at least US$11 billion in productivity and efficiency improvements with IIoT.

Beyond helping manufacturers optimize workflows and manage assets, IIoT can provide data on usage patterns to uncover improvement areas like new infrastructure projects, equipment updates, efficient raw material utilization.

These measures can lead to fewer greenhouse gases generated per unit manufactured or consumed.

3. Electric Vehicles

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, vehicles account for almost 30% of U.S. carbon emissions. Another 25% comes from power plants that generate the electricity used by EVs. For this reason, cities need to provide sustainable transport through an energy mix that includes renewables like solar and wind.

IoT-capable electric vehicles are part of this mix. Governments and organizations can turn emissions around by replacing public transit and delivery vehicles with connected EVs and widely campaigning for electric cars in the private segment.

EVs already promise a greener future by reducing fossil fuel consumption. However, they can make an even bigger impact with IoT. For instance, data from onboard sensors can help track usage patterns and adjust driving modes for better energy performance.

Moreover, EVs connected to smart meters can autonomously keep track of energy demand and only charge during off-peak hours. That way, they can contribute to a more balanced grid and less energy wastage.

4. Oil and Gas

One of the biggest culprits of global emissions, the petroleum sector releases more than two billion tonnes of greenhouse gases annually. With IoT, the industry has a chance to cut its carbon footprint and become more sustainable.

By integrating sensors and equipment into energy distribution networks, companies can more closely monitor different distribution aspects. For example, telemetry data from sensors like vibration detectors and pressure gauges can help determine the optimal time for repairs or replacement and facilitate timely leak detection.

Additionally, connected flow meters and remote valves can track activity and weather patterns over time to help companies decide when to start or stop operations, preventing overproduction and unnecessary wastage.

5. Renewable Energy

Global energy demand is projected to increase by more than 50% over the next 40 years. This rise will come primarily from developing economies, with electricity consumption expected to double and triple in South America and Africa, respectively. With this skyrocketing demand, renewable energy will need to improve dramatically to become a feasible alternative to fossil fuel-based energy sources.

IoT can play a critical role in reducing costs and driving efficiency in renewable energy generation. For instance, wind and solar energy can benefit from IoT through accurate weather forecasting and better site selection.

Meanwhile, sensors in geothermal wells can help measure fluid pressure and temperature to balance electricity generation and heating for efficient resource utilization.

IoT Addresses Climate Change from Multiple Fronts

IoT is poised to become a significant driver of sustainability and climate action in the coming decade, especially as global leaders get to work on COP26 outcomes.

Organizations and governments are already planning their future models around sustainable development plans and setting up innovative IoT-based projects that help reduce carbon emissions.

Regardless of the role you intend to play in the war against climate change, the Internet of Things can be a formidable addition to your arsenal.

Create a free IoT2Market account and explore what IoT suppliers from around the world have to offer against carbon emissions.

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