Energy and Digitalization: what is it delivering?
As global internet distribution and usage keeps growing – more than 3.5 billion people, nearly half the global population, now use the internet – people and devices are also becoming more connected. The “Internet of Things” (IoT) is allowing objects to be connected to communication networks, extending services, and increasing the efficiency and quality of technology use.
Within this framework, digital connectivity is positively impacting energy systems by making them more connected, efficient, reliable and sustainable. The new flow of data and analytics is enabling detection of who needs energy, energy consumption peaks, wastages, and ultimately lowering costs. It is estimated that investment in digital electricity infrastructure and software has grown by over 20% annually since 2014.
Digital systems such as online platforms for network management, and user sensors, meters and devices for collecting data, are enabling more efficient management, analysis and data processing (and generation of Big Data). Analytics coming from data can be of great help to businesses in reducing maintenance costs, improving energy-supply efficiency and reducing unplanned downtime. Energy management systems are providing consumers with greater transparency and control over their energy use.
Digitalization and energy-efficiency
Digital technology is providing control of energy system performance and monitoring of consumption, by measuring and targeting areas in which energy efficiency can be improved, and identifying actions that can optimize energy bills. Consumers being more informed means that they can lower their energy spend, while enabling them to achieve overall benefits such as lower peak demand, savings and ancillary services.
Additionally, a digital energy system can interface between equipment and the energy source, regulating consumption and source according to energy price signals. In the case of grid peak demand, a system can switch to low consumption mode and change power source to a locally-situated generator or battery stored energy. Digital systems have the capacity to control the energy use, such as activating or deactivating lights and other appliances, thanks to remote real-time communication with other equipment through detectors.
Digitalization and energy autonomy
With the increasing levels of use of solar power and energy storage systems, energy consumers are able to become grid-independent and also become energy producers. Having a digital energy management system facilitates the coordination of energy sources, for example, when there is a higher consumption need, the system can supplement it with energy supply from the grid, or when generation exceeds need, the consumer can turn into a supplier.
Digital energy application for cold storage use
There is recently developed software, hardware and data management systems that remotely capture real-time data on energy systems, monitor the efficiency of cooling systems, and other agricultural data such as climatic conditions. The data collected and insights produced are of great importance to farmers and agribusinesses. Agricultural applied remote sensing and management systems enable the climatic control of cold storage, while monitoring power consumption and other factors impacting operational efficiency.
Through logs of a facility’s internal environmental conditions, data can be converted into insights relevant to the client’s throughput and quality management. These diagnostics can help improve facility management by identifying operational weaknesses, such as employees using the cold storage for personal refreshment, or lights being left on at night.
In the near future, multiple data collection centers within geographical areas or supply chains will enable the aggregation of relevant data, including market and industry level information. This will be particularly useful for insurance providers, financing companies, and those seeking to reduce risk and provide farmers and agribusinesses with tailored solutions.