Three Technologies to Embed in Energy Businesses
The growth of digital technology in the renewable energy sector is proving to be transformative. The availability of digital tools is enabling a new business model that improves productivity and efficiency.
In a sector that is forecast to grow by a CAGR of more than 6% between 2020 and 2025, the financial benefits to operators could be enormous. With a new federal government recommitting to renewables, and states like California setting medium-term goals of 100% clean electric, efficiencies developed through digitalization are certain to be magnified many times.
The New Renewable Energy Business Model
Renewable energy businesses are moving toward a decentralized model. Large numbers of smaller, photovoltaic powered generators are being deployed. These power systems can be maintained centrally, with monitoring, management, and maintenance issues enabled by digitalization of complex energy systems.
Centralization of control has impacted employment and efficiency, helping companies to streamline their operations and deliver improved maintenance and energy delivery.
Three Technologies Improving the Renewable Energy Sector
This new business model, and further efficiencies that can be made, would not be possible without three key technologies:
1. The Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT helps companies to network all their operating centers. These generate data that is collected at the central hub and analyzed to execute commands that are relayed back to the outlying equipment.
2. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence is applied to the data collected to enable the decision-making needed before commands can be relayed. As data is collected, analyzed, and acted upon, machine learning is applied to deliver continuous improvement in decision-making.
Of course, the security of management of data is paramount. Blockchain technology provides this while simultaneously enabling companies to automate elements of its business.
Examples of How Technology Energizes Renewable Energy
There are many examples of these three technologies working for the greater good in the energy sectors. Here are three that demonstrate just how transformative each can be:
1. IoT: Duke Energy
Duke Energy has created a ‘self-heating grid system’, able to automatically re-calibrate itself and minimize downtime. How? It connected smart meters to create a single network into a smart energy grid and allow connected grid management.
2. AI: General Electric
General Electric has developed software called ‘Predix’, which performs analysis of collected data from equipment sensors. This is analyzed by Predix and results predict machine failures. GE’s energy infrastructure includes wind turbines and hydroelectric generators. Predix has helped the company create a sustainable renewable energy grid.
3. Blockchain: Brooklyn Microgrid
Brooklyn Microgrid uses blockchain technology to enable peer-to-peer energy exchange in its TransActive grid. It combines smart meters with blockchain-enabled software to track generation and usage of electricity, and then manage switches between homes. This means homes with solar panels can sell electricity they generate to homes without solar, with the transaction managed by blockchain.
Digital Technology – The Power to Change the World’s Power Usage
Digital technologies are already changing how energy companies operate and how homeowners and businesses consume energy. IoT, AI, and blockchain are combining to deliver increasing value along the supply chain, with the potential to reduce carbon footprints and improve efficiencies for all.
The potential to capture more gains can only be tapped by delivering innovation. This requires highly skilled, talented, and creative specialists in the technology field. This is where the difficulty really lies. KPMG has found that the tech skills shortage is greater than it has been since 2008.
Without the tech talent needed, energy companies are likely to fall behind competitors that can draw on the innovative talent they need to create better solutions, improve business efficiencies, and deliver increasing profits.