A Smart Energy Revolution?
Published: 07 Apr 2016
To many the energy industry is going through a revolutionary stage of transitional change. Whilst the oil and gas industry is showing small signs of recovery, the renewable energy sector continues to grow rapidly.
Within this mix of changes in fuel sources smart energy is continuing to become more of an established part of the future of our energy choices. It is likely that the future of our energy industry will be increasingly reliant on digital intelligence to optimise and improve energy efficiency.
Technology has rapidly expanded and is now a major part of the energy industry. The development of smart energy infrastructure with digital intelligence is capable of transforming the way we manage, generate and store energy.
It is likely that over the next few years the energy industry will continue to expand its reliance on using digital intelligence and data analytics to continue improving efficiency.
What are the key smart solutions transforming the energy industry?
The magazine ‘Information Age’ recently put together a list of the key smart solutions transforming the energy industry. Here is a summary of their findings:
Smart grids and demand response models
Smart grids are a prime example of how digital intelligence can transform the energy industry and improve efficiency. Driven by Demand Response models, smart grids enable a real-time analysis of trends in customer demands. By integrating this digitally produced information allows businesses to separately react to demands in energy and adjust the distribution accordingly.
Demand Response models are predicted to transform electricity management as they assist countries in reaching their emission targets and at the same time contributing to providing cleaner and more efficient energy practices during peak hours.
Microgrids and Prosumers
Smart grids and microgrids are reducing energy costs and improving energy performance.
More and more people are producing their own energy through renewable supplies such as wind turbines or solar panels. This growth of independence is giving more people control over their energy supply. The creation of microgrids is enabling people to disconnect from the power grid and operate autonomously off their own local energy generation.
Smart meters allow two way communication between the point of generation and consumption. Wireless technology then allows smart meters to transfer this information to the supplier. The supplier is then able to optimise energy generation based on these readings. Ultimately this will reduce costs and as potentially less energy will be wasted will improve environmental performance.
The Social Innovaton in Energy claimed in 2015 there were 510M smart meters installed globally. This number is set to increase to 980M by end of 2020 with 450M installed in China (Source: Information Age Magazine).
Virtual Power Plants
Virtual Power Plants allow various energy sources to be integrated into one centrally controlled network. Data intelligence within the central network is then capable of monitoring and controlling energy distribution. For example it will allow the VPP to deliver energy from a certain power source when energy demand is at its peak.
This process is vital within renewable energy source which do not generate a constant flow of electricity e.g. solar energy can only be captured in the day so require another power resource to balance this out.
The internet of buildings
Internet of buildings demonstrates how new energy solutions will be transferred across ‘Smart Cities’. Digital solutions will allow energy to be shared across buildings in the grid optimising both distribution and usage.
Integrating IT technology into smart energy designs will demonstrate how the distribution and consumption of energy will be optimised through interactive grids. Furthermore we will see a future where social innovation will integrate renewable energy sources into smart grids and create an efficient source of energy. Social Innovation will provide massive opportunities for both businesses and consumers.
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