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7 technology trends in the energy sector to watch out for

7 technology trends in the energy sector to watch out for

Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/dR3Fb6dBEc0 

Global energy consumption continues to increase, albeit at a slower rate than in the past—about 1-2% annually. Climate change continues to be a major worry. Newer, stronger restrictions require businesses to reduce their environmental impact. They must reduce energy waste and potentially transition to alternative energy sources. Changing client demand also drives the energy industry. So, trying to make a mark in the energy sector in 2022 might require a change in mindset. Consumers have requested sustainable options and pressured power companies to implement new business models. 

Innovation in the energy sector can take various forms. Smart grids forecast energy demand peaks and equipment failures. Autonomous drones monitor electrical lines and infrastructure. Digital twins model and display the probable repercussions of grid upgrades. The energy revolution is accelerating, with renewables comprising a larger proportion of the energy mix, an increase in behind-the-meter innovation, and a shift toward distributed energy and electric vehicles. However, the energy transition must be backed by technological change.

The Impact Of IIoT On The Market

The IIoT has already revolutionised the manufacturing industry, but Industry 4.0 (also known as the fourth industrial revolution) is still in its infancy. If you want to capitalise on this revolution, you might have to enhance your hardware and infrastructure before making a move to the IIoT. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the centrepiece of Industry 4.0 and has impacted the industrial sector.

The IIoT is a development from the previous generation of Distributed Control Systems (DCS) that enhances monitoring, efficiency, performance, production, and profitability in the industrial sector. It is made possible by introducing and improving technologies like Cyber-physical Systems (CPS), cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0 depend on data, which provides the foundation for modern industrial operations and future improvements in the industry. Enhancing our data gathering and analysis knowledge and skills can streamline the manufacturing process, cut production costs, and boost productivity.

Using cloud computing, we can now centrally store and analyse crucial data without the need for human intervention, while edge computing allows for decentralised decision-making by processing data close to the source. The latter is especially advantageous for monitoring and predictive maintenance.

We can simplify a complex data landscape by categorising data into three major categories: On the one hand, there are historical data demonstrating long-term patterns. Edge sensors provide and process real-time data, and in between are all the data processed by the SCADA system that contribute to daily operations. The difficulty lies in determining how much and what kind of data to process.

The key to effective data management and automation is not to gather and analyse as much data as possible, but rather to obtain the appropriate quantities and types of data. In other words, prioritise quality above quantity when selecting hardware and technology.

Innovative Solutions From Product Companies

Several indicators show that the industry’s future advancements will undergo fast change. Globally, governments enact legislation to incorporate sustainable energy sources and technologies to facilitate the efficient use of energy systems. Innovative product company solutions can be broadly classified into three recurrent categories:

Decarbonization signifies a transition towards a clean and carbon-free economy through incorporating and expanding renewable energy sources. Decarbonisation strategies include a large increase in the proportion of electric mobility and increased taxes on the use of fossil fuels.

Decentralisation refers to the geographically dispersed, multi-tiered producers and consumers of electricity. Currently, several locations generate electricity independently despite not being connected to the distribution networks. In addition, decentralisation allows for reduced energy intensity and the utilisation of renewable energy sources.

Digitisation entails the extensive use of digital machinery and devices at all levels of the power system, including production, infrastructure, and end-user devices. Energy 4.0 allows intelligent energy and power management solutions based on machine-to-machine and machine-to-human interactions.

Energy Storage And Consumption Patterns

The energy systems of the future are highly decentralised. Due to new open market business models, several customers can generate and store energy, and play an active role in the electrical power grid. Distributed and aggregated battery energy storage systems enhance the operability of distribution grids by enabling innovative energy management strategies and energy resource allocation. Even while it does not enable a direct interconnection between intermittent renewables and storage, one application of energy contracts that encourages storage is charging consumers more than their peak power consumption.

The domestic consumption patterns that have been measured indicate that there may be substantial variations. Residential storage and peak shaving depend on specific circumstances, especially when the consumer is a prosumer. Therefore, it cannot be assumed that energy storage should be undertaken during the night when energy demands are lower. To size a residential BESS that is economically viable, it is essential to analyse the specific consumption pattern of each prosumer. A further significant conclusion from the analysis of the measurements is that consumers who can contribute energy production from RES and residential BESS are eligible to engage in peer-to-peer (P2P) energy trading since their peak demand spikes at various times during the 24 hours. 

An Empowered Customer Base

There are numerous locations in the world where the costs of green energy generation are less than transmission fees, allowing competition with hypothetical zero-cost central production sites.

The ‘energy revolution’ we’re in right now is the result of this singularity. It has permitted the objective of carbon neutrality, sparked the advent of electric mobility, and is set to bolster the green hydrogen dream. This growth has also necessitated a complete redesign of the electric grid, the backbone of electric energy infrastructure. DSOs are being incentivised to digitise their grids by adding an electronic, software, and communication layer to the existing one. However, the true revolution of the energy future will involve energy users. They will transform into prosumers who actively interact with the electric grid, altering their behaviour and lifestyle.

Soon, energy prosumers will become active participants by producing and storing their energy and electrifying the majority of energy consumption, such as transportation and heating. This customer empowerment will generate an “information” demand regarding energy origin, cost indications, etc. All of this could result in a new generation of grid digitisation that is significantly more advanced than the current state with a smart low-voltage grid, increased sensitisation, and vastly improved communication channels between the DSO and the customer.

Self-Generating Communities

It is well known that the construction sector can play a significant role in forming energy communities, as a multi-unit building or a neighbourhood can constitute a community with the same energy and environmental goals. This idea becomes much more intriguing when we consider the advantages cooperation might provide for renewable energy self-consumption. Self-consumption refers to the capability of consuming on-site the energy generated by a renewable power unit (e.g., photovoltaic) to satisfy user demand.

Individual self-consumption is based on the fact that the owner of the generation unit solely uses the energy for its use and either saves the excess in storage systems or feeds it back into the grid. When coupled with appropriate energy conservation strategies, this strategy contributes to the investment’s profitability by reducing the quantity of energy drawn from the distribution grid and increasing the use of renewable energy sources (RES).

Collective self-consumption is when two or more members share the energy generated by RES at a particular location. Collective self-consumers include the occupants of the same building or the business owners in a shopping mall. Numerous technologies can promote the deployment and utilisation of RECs by facilitating the monitoring of usage, hence aiding community members in energy conservation and consumption. Indeed, the success of renewable energy certificates (RECs) and their environmental benefits will rely heavily on technical and social efforts that increase the adaptability of buildings.

The reduction in energy consumption will occur not only from the retrofitting of the building’s envelope but also from the deployment of information and communication technology (ICT) solutions that collect data from sensors and can propose to end users how to optimise their final use.

Using proper energy storage devices can also facilitate the maximisation of photovoltaic self-consumption. Storage could be a fundamental technology in the development of RECs since it enables prosumers to store excess energy generated during the day and provide power when the renewable source is limited or missing (for example at night-time).

Participation in renewable energy can yield a financial gain (after a reduction in the monthly electricity bill) as well as social and environmental benefits. The economic gains may be shared among the renewable energy community’s members. Consequently, selecting the most viable business model and guaranteeing a fair distribution of benefits among participants are also crucial aspects of REC design.

Prioritised Physical Security And Cybersecurity

Staff are the company’s first line of defence against cyberattacks. Effective employee training, coupled with ensuring you have the necessary cyber security knowledge, can make all the difference when it comes to protecting critical infrastructure. Research has demonstrated that businesses must examine their investments in educating their personnel on how to recognise and respond to accidents promptly.

Moving To The Cloud

Digital transformation in any industry is driven by massive data gathering and mining, and energy companies must engage in these activities across all business sectors, including digital usage, customer interactions and behaviours, competition analysis, technology trends and predictions, energy usage trends, and more.

In the energy industry, companies are already realising value from utilising data to monitor their infrastructure, optimise the operation of complex energy systems (e.g., batteries, wells, stations), forecast supply and demand, and adapt to changes in energy market trading conditions, and A/B test customer experience enhancements.

With pricey hardware infrastructure, computing capacity, and cutting-edge technologies required to accomplish these operations, it makes sense to hire a cloud solution rather than engage in ownership and control. Using a cloud-first strategy can help with the resilience of your systems.

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