Fremont, CA: The idea of digital twins isn't entirely novel. It was first introduced in conventional forms for production and product lifecycle management many years ago. With the adoption of advanced sensors, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) in this era of Industry 4.0, digital twinning has been refined and expanded.
A digital twin is essentially a virtual representation of equipment, processes, information, and various physical assets. Data from a variety of sources, including sensors, are synchronized to provide real-time status. The technology aids in the optimization of operations, the reduction of costs, and the implementation of predictive maintenance capabilities.
Over the years, the manufacturing, retail, and automotive industries have rapidly deployed digital monitoring and control solutions. However, the systems are also beneficial to healthcare providers and utilities. For instance, the concept of creating a virtual replica of the brain and heart is being investigated in order to speed up diagnosis and treatment.
Efficiency in Energy, Utility Apps
Decarbonization trends have resulted in advancements in clean technologies while emphasizing the significance of connected assets. The key benefits of digital twinning are improved physical asset performance and transmission efficiencies. Leading technology providers are collaborating with utilities to accelerate digital transformation.
Microsoft confirmed that Azure Digital Twins are used by Norway's electricity supplier Agder Energi. The utility wanted to know how it could improve grid and operational efficiencies. Device controls, distributed energy resources, and predictive forecasting are prominent tools that enable the transformation. This would allow the company to save money on unnecessary energy upgrades.
Sensor technology, IoT, and smart platforms are all combined in digital twins. Operators can accurately map physical assets into digital versions. Virtual reality is also a rapidly expanding market, fueling innovation in utility management.
Renewable energy generation will provide ample opportunities for virtual twin service providers because of the need to operate a wide range of physical equipment. For example, wind turbines, energy transmission and distribution (T&D) lines, and energy storage could all be assets.
Digital Twin of a Wind Turbine
Wind turbines must be built to last for decades. Consistent performance in the harshest of environments necessitates continuous monitoring, which will also help to avoid unexpected failures. Wind farms generated more than 17 percent of the total generating capacity in the UK in 2018. The statistic indicates that the renewables sector has enormous potential for digital-twin industry players.
GE previously unveiled a digital wind-farm concept for recording turbine configuration prior to procurement and construction. Each wind turbine can communicate with its virtual twin, allowing for software-based performance optimization.