IoT, billed as the next industrial revolution, has the potential to transform the power sector significantly by optimizing operations, managing asset performance, and hiring customers to reduce energy costs.
FERMONT, CA:Electric utility is continuously exposed to regulatory constraints, policy changes, varying economic, technological, and customer preferences. Utilities need to encourage continuous power supply with effective load transfer and minimize downtime with timely maintenance to operate in this competitive market. Digitally powered technologies are being implemented by utilities worldwide to meet the needs of a rapidly evolving energy landscape. Transmission and distribution enterprises need to push boundaries, work together to innovate and invest strategically in solutions that support the journey towards a more digital, distributed grid— one that will provide new business value streams and expanded customer choices. Here is a brief discussion on how IoT is used to transform the electric utility companies from generating energy to transmission, distribution, and consumption.
The aim of generating electricity is to achieve efficiency, accessibility, sustainability, and fossil and emissions usage reductions. To achieve these goals, many organizations around the world are increasingly leveraging on IoT. In power generation, there are three main areas where IoT can have a great impact.
Remote Asset Management
This is possibly one of the industry's most common applications of IoT. To determine the state of assets from turbines to transmission lines, connected sensors are used to measure wear, tear, vibration, temperature, and other parameters. Trends in data obtained from sensors could be used to predict key infrastructure and schedule maintenance "time to failure" to minimize downtime due to unplanned maintenance, and to help avoid the economic consequences of such downtime. Adopting IoT in energy generations may also help identify safety issues such as gas leakage before harming staff and facilities, generally assisting stations in achieving new levels of safety.
IoT has the potential to provide real-time information on the entire generation station's overall state, and this significantly enhances plant automation. Real-time data is used to fine-tune plant operations, improve the conversion of energy from fuels, and reduce maintenance costs.
Business Models and Decentralization
IoT quickly leads to the decentralization of resources. It is at the center of several new business models that pave the way for the marketing of renewable energy solutions of small and medium scale. From off-grid solar solutions like pay as you use, to large-scale, privately-owned stations, IoT provides utilities with the information needed to create flexible tariffs (e.g., higher tariffs during peak periods) to offer more options for consumers.
Asset Management and Maintenance
The assets used in power transmission and distribution typically include substation equipment, transmission lines, among others, depending on the system. Each substation equipment develops faults and fails due to factors such as overloading, vandalization, etc. Through IoT, they can be remotely controlled with a variety of sensors that track parameters such as temperature, detect dropping utility poles until they trigger safety hazards, and detect security breaches to avoid widespread vandalism. There is a decline in overall spending on parts and maintenance, making energy more available and affordable.
IoT has the potential to provide the information needed in real-time to manage T&D congestion effectively. With IoT, the grid must ensure that the connected generation stations meet the requirements for connection from frequency to voltage control to prevent instability.
The addition of daily homes to the energy grid is one of the main future trends in electricity generation. IoT is one of the key technologies driving this transition. Connecting renewable energy-based generation plants with varying levels of production to the grid will result in voltage variations at different grid nodes causing power flow changes, but all these can be managed using real-time data provided by IoT solutions, auto-adjusting the grid to maintain stability.
Transforming Energy Consumption with IoT
Consumption is by far a segment of the energy cycle where IoT had the greatest impact. It began with smart meters and thermostats based on AMR and has developed into smart electricity meters that forecast consumption patterns and monitor the power supply to certain power-hungry equipment during peak times when power is expensive with your permission. Web-connected lighting switches off lights automatically by detecting that nobody is at home. Some of the important opportunities that IoT providers are discussed below on the consumer side of electricity.
IoT lets users save costs and make smart power use decisions. The smart meter information is sent to the mobile app through which customers can access how much energy they have consumed, how much more they can afford to consume based on their budget and take steps to change usage accordingly. Consumers may shut off the power supply to certain appliances and set conditions under which certain appliances will be installed. With this, waste can be eradicated.
The new line of smart meters is being deployed in developed countries, enabling two-way communication between the distribution station and the consumer. These meters send notifications to utility agencies about downtime and other critical operation information. Because of faults and other variables, energy providers may operate on this information and respond faster to outages. The meters help in adjusting power distribution as a result of peak time variations across various areas.
Each of the applications mentioned above reflects opportunities for developers and utilities to provide added value to consumers, and the combination of all of these applications will certainly help make energy safer, healthier, more affordable and sustainable.