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Moving from Internet of Things to Internet of Energy

Published on September 19, 2018 by Prabaldeep Paul

While the Internet of Things (IoT) have started becoming pervasive in our lives, a very important realization has also started taking shape in the form of the Internet of Energy (IoE), and this is not surprisingly, given IoT runs on energy.

The basis of IoE is to use distributed energy systems that can optimize the efficiency of energy infrastructure and usage, and reduce wastage. Using a system that combines microgrids, intelligent energy storage, renewable energy generation, smart devices with sensors, and monitoring digital services such as data analytics and demand-side energy management software, IoE helps balance energy demand and supply, particularly during peak demand.

It is a win-win situation for utility companies and users (households and businesses).

The benefits and importance can be significant.

  • Using drive demand side response (DSR), National Grid (UK) believes that 30-50% of power fluctuations in the grid can be solved with users adjusting their peak-time demand.

  • The World Energy Council estimates that digital services in the renewable energy sector can be worth USD89bn by 2030.

  • A recent World Economic Forum report concludes that over the next 10 years, the power industry will create USD1.3trn in value by rolling out services that support IoT.

The forefront of the development towards IoE has been driven by new age utilities companies.

  • Chilean “behind the meter” solar PV-energy storage microgrid company, Amigo Solar, is leveraging its Solar Electricity Network Platform to create intelligent renewable microgrids for home and business owners.

  • An innovative residential battery storage program run by Green Mountain Power in Vermont (US) saved USD500,000 by reducing peak demand during the recent July heat wave by buying less electricity from power plants at peak prices and, instead, tapped into the batteries (virtual power plant) in customers’ homes.

Even business houses have started implementing IoT/IoE programs.

  • General Electric is building its own “Internet of Power” to augment its operations by combining big data, machine learning, and IoT technology.

  • Both Hilton and Marriott Hotels chains are planning to implement IoT-/IoE-enabled rooms in the future. Marriott, in particular, estimates it can save energy worth up to USD300 per room in a year using smart IoT/IoE technology.

However, despite the clear opportunity, utility companies, particularly old and large ones, have been slow in implementing IoE solutions. While initiatives on some items, such as smart grids and smart meters, have picked up steam, the wider encompassing solutions are yet to be rolled out completely. Key challenges include aging energy infrastructure and complexity of system-wide rollouts.

In addition, given the fact that IoE will run on decentralized energy resources and distributed intelligence provided by connected devices and IoT (energy assets), a distributed public ledger, such as, Blockchain becomes a very important facilitator in such a scenario.

In order to address and realize the true potential of IoE, old guard utility companies will not only have to invest time and resources into developing adequate supporting infrastructure but also in security, privacy, identity management, etc.






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About the Author

Prabaldeep leads the strategy research and consulting practice at Acuity Knowledge Partners. He has over 13 years of experience working on assignments related to growth strategy formulation, go-to-market strategy, market entry and expansion (buy/build options), benchmarking, business transformation, process improvement, and more. He works closely with management, strategy, corporate development, competitive intelligence, innovation and procurement teams of clients across multiple industries.

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