By: Kevin Williams
Categories: Cool Tech
The Internet of Things (IoT) is starting to impact nearly every facet of our lives, and this is especially true in the energy sector. Sensors that collect and communicate data are driving innovations that allow for businesses, utilities, and private individuals to monitor and control energy usage in real time. As a result, they save money, reduce the environmental impact of their energy consumption, and mitigate or avoid costly problems such as power outages.
Here's a breakdown of how each of these groups benefits from Internet of Things technology to monitor and control their energy usage:
Businesses – Sensors that monitor a company's energy usage in its buildings and other facilities can report on irregularities or inefficiencies as they occur. This allows those businesses to react quickly to avoid problems or to address them immediately before they become serious, such as with damaged equipment or power outages. These sensors also generate data that can be analyzed to help anticipate and avoid problems in the future. Finally, monitoring energy usage allows facility managers to optimize their buildings' energy consumption so that waste is reduced to benefit the company’s bottom line.
Utilities – IoT technology that collects and transmits data in real-time allow utilities to monitor energy data throughout the grid and to loads at the grid's edge. This allows them to use data to make better business decisions in terms of load balancing, forecasting, and other crucial processes. It also allows them to immediately become aware of and respond to power outages.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence can also be implemented to analyze data to allow the grid to "learn" so that it can avoid problems in operations and maintenance (O&M). The results are safer, more resilient, and more reliable power plants and grids.
For example, Austin Energy is using IoT technology to collect and analyze data from its customers' smart thermostats. In addition, Duke Energy recently invested $80 million to install 20,000 wireless sensors at its power plants to provide real-time data that enables employees to detect and respond to problems immediately.
Private individuals – Homeowners can use the IoT to monitor and control their home’s energy consumption at each switch and outlet. This allows them to easily gain insights into how they can change their habits to use less energy. It also lets them program their home's energy consumption based on their needs ahead of time so that none of it is wasted.
As the IoT becomes more influential in our daily lives, we'll undoubtedly start to see major changes in the way we manage energy as a society. Businesses will gain greater efficiencies that affect their bottom line, vulnerabilities in the grid will be shored up, and private individuals will be able to optimize their home's energy usage to fit their lifestyles. These are just things that we can imagine based on what we’ve seen so far. Who knows what other innovations will result from the IoT?