Impact of IoT on Renewable Energy
With fossil fuels rapidly depleting across the world, the energy sector has changed over the last 20 years. There is great pressure on organizations to switch to greener sources of energy and as technology continues to become more efficient and cost-effective, the adoption of renewable energy sources like wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal power, and biomass energy is soaring continuously at an unprecedented rate. Given this, it will hardly be an understatement to say that IoT-integrated renewable energy solutions will be the primary source driving our future.
What Are the Challenges Faced by Renewable Energy Providers?
Renewable energy providers face difficulties in maintaining the balance between supply and demand, making grid integration a major stumbling block. Climate changes such as heatwaves or large storms can create a greater demand for energy that requires utility companies to make large emergency purchases to prevent service disruptions. These purchases drive up costs for both the customers and the companies. Renewable energy sources interrupt power grid stability due to intermittent power generation, making it difficult for these sources to compete with fossil fuels for energy reliability.
IoT-based technology and its applications mitigate these challenges and accelerate the acceptance of renewable energy sources through the creation of smart energy solutions.
Applications of IoT in Renewable Energy
IoT applications in the renewable energy sector involve sensors that are connected to the generation, transmission, and distribution equipment. These devices can help companies remotely control and monitor the functioning of equipment in real-time, leading to lowered operational costs and lower dependence on the already fast depleting fossil fuels.
Below are the main IoT applications in renewable energy –
Automation to increase overall production: The most popular renewable energy sources are solar energy and wind due to their reliability and abundance. The cost associated with producing energy from these sources has decreased over the years but integrating them with IoT can further reduce costs and increase reliability. Most solar energy panels use dual-axis trackers to maximize energy production. The function of these trackers is to calibrate the angle of the panels so that they receive the maximum solar radiation during the day. IoT systems can help remotely monitor and regulate these trackers to ensure their optimum function. With analytics solutions and sensors, the movement of the sun can be tracked which can then be used to automatically adjust the angle of the solar panels. Similarly, IoT sensors can also be used in wind energy to monitor various parameters that affect power generation. Automated controls such as the above enable power plants to work more efficiently, improving power output, reducing operating costs, and improving safety standards.
Smart Grids: Unreliable transmission and distribution systems pose significant bottlenecks to the growth of renewable energy. Traditional energy grids are designed to support the one-way transmission of energy from power plants, billing the customers once a month. They are not adequate to support the variable nature of electricity supply from renewable sources. To put it simply, the dependence of renewable energy on weather conditions cannot be supported by conventional energy grids. IoT has helped to create ‘smart grids’ that support the manual switching between conservative power plants and renewables to ensure an uninterrupted power supply. This is done with the help of IoT sensors which send triggers during power cuts to facilitate the switching, empowering the smart grids to not only support the mercurial nature of renewable energy but also send a non-stop energy supply to consumers.
Benefits of IoT-Based Renewable Energy Solutions
IoT can increase the adoption of renewables through power consumption monitoring and real-time alerts. Some of its benefits include:
Cost-Effectiveness: IoT provides excellent tools for monitoring power consumption from renewable energy sources. Utility companies and electricity providers can use IoT solutions to get valuable insights for making data-driven business decisions. Power distributors can analyze users’ power consumption patterns using IoT-assimilated data while providers can balance supply and demand based on the demands of consumers. This helps lower their input costs and eventually cut down on electricity wastage, saving a lot of money in the process.
Grid Management: By placing sensors at substations and along distribution lines (smart grids), energy companies can improve overall grid management by gathering real-time power consumption data. They can use this data to make decisions about voltage control, network configurations, and load switching. IoT sensors can alert operators about outages in real-time, allowing them to turn off the power and prevent possible electrocution, fires, and other hazards. This entire process can even be automated with connected systems, saving time and human resources. Power outage data can serve for load forecasting and help companies decide where to build new infrastructure or upgrade existing ones.
Residential Solutions: Citizens themselves can generate ‘green energy’ with the help of IoT devices. They can connect their solar panels, smart roofs, rainwater harvesters, and windows in one system, and manage the working of each through a desktop or mobile application. People can also install IoT sensors at their homes or offices that measure the power consumed by individual appliances. They can use this data to identify wastage to save on their energy bills.
IoT solutions are transforming the energy sector, enabling sustainable development and the adoption of renewable energy systems through connected solutions. Renewables are the future of existence, and their acceptance with the help of IoT will gradually fulfil our ever-growing electricity needs.
Read our blog on the biggest IoT trends of 2021 here.
With Thingstel, renewable energy companies can have IoT-based solutions that can facilitate grid stability and provide actionable data to reduce energy consumption and cost. We provide next-generation sensors, visualization platforms, and customizable analytics modules with increased intelligence, reliability, and improved accuracy specifications. Our technologies can empower and strengthen your business, providing you with a wide array of solutions ranging from predictive maintenance to remote monitoring to real-time analytics and data visualization. Reach out to us in case you have any questions or simply want to know more!