How to use IoT for Energy Sustainability and Efficiency?


Energy Sustainability refers to meeting the needs of the present without compromising the energy needs of future generations. The sources of energy we mostly depend on are coal and petroleum, which are non-renewable. Burning these fossil fuels causes huge damage to the environment resulting in global warming. These sources are in limited quantities on earth, whose excessive usage leads to depletion. So, energy sustainability is possible only by reducing energy wastage and using renewable energy sources.

Energy Efficiency refers to using less energy to produce the same results, which is nothing but eliminating wastage. Energy efficiency can be achieved using technology that performs the same task with comparatively less energy.

IoT can be used to obtain both Energy Sustainability & Efficiency, the trending technology. IoT, along with AI, cloud computing, data transfer systems, data analysis, communication, and other technologies, makes energy conservation possible.

Following are the applications of IoT in the energy sector −

IoT-based Energy Monitoring Systems

IoT devices connected to energy systems use Machine Learning to predict energy consumption in the future. This allows energy companies to develop product strategies and helps utilities improve their demand-based pricing models. So, IoT, along with Machine Learning(ML), avoids outages and wastage. Hence, IoT-based Energy Monitoring Systems(EMS) present insights for energy conservation.

Smart Home

Smart HVAC device

HVAC refers to Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning. HVAC systems consume a lot of energy, about 60% of the total in residential and commercial buildings. So, reducing energy consumption at this level is highly important, and IoT can achieve this!

Installing IoT devices makes it easy to monitor the system’s performance, turning them on/of automatically, changing the temperatures using data of user’s behaviour at different weather conditions(by using a smart thermostat), etc.

Smart HVAC components include – a smart thermostat, motion sensors, a remote controller, and a hub that stores and analyzes the data. We can reduce electricity bills, address performance issues and prevent downtime, provide better conditions for residents, lower carbon emissions, etc.

Smart lighting

Almost 20% of energy is consumed for lighting, which results in 6% of CO2 emissions. So there is a lot to fight against with the energy crisis in this area. Though our government is introducing LED lamps which use 85% less energy than incandescent lamps, many need to come forward to accept this LED technology. Also, there is a wastage of energy due to manual switching systems, so it’s high time to move towards smart lighting systems. This system uses different kinds of lighting control sensors like motion, occupancy, voice, IR, Ultrasonic, temperature, etc. Using IoT, one can manage the lighting with their smartphone.

Improving Insulation

Improper insulation also leads to inefficient usage of energy. When the insulation is insufficient, it causes tenants in colder countries to run heaters to have a healthy temperature. This is both financially unsustainable and also inefficient usage of energy. We can use IoT devices to identify places where temperatures fall below the optimum. Using this information, remedies can be made to those places to reduce energy consumption and have proper insulation.

Similarly, in hotter countries, improper insulation makes tenants turn on Air Conditioners quite often. Here IoT is used to identify areas where temperatures rise above the optimum.

Smart Grids

The energy grid is a network for electricity delivery to various locations. Smart grids, unlike traditional grids, use technologies such as sensors, smart meters, and networks to increase intelligence and efficient energy usage. Smart meters provide real-time data about energy consumption using IoT and allow operators to understand energy requirements. Smart grids can also be integrated with renewable energy sources like hydro, solar, wind, etc.

The meter across the grid must be upheld by two principles – cybersecurity and connectivity.

Connectivity

To share the data continuously with the operator, reliable connectivity must be maintained, without which there will be no efficient supply.

Cybersecurity

While the robust connectivity enables smart grids to share accurate data with the operators, it also exposes them to the risk of hacking. This attack threatens consumers, government agencies, operators, etc. So having a unique digital identity for a smart grid would reduce the risk.

Equipment monitoring and Maintenance

Equipment in industries sometimes fails to perform as intended due to faults, resulting in low performance and low operational efficiencies. IoT devices installed in critical areas help monitor the environment around them, find equipment errors, understand the uptimes and downtimes, etc. Monitoring the issues using IoT devices helps reduce energy wastage, lower the cost of damage, and identify parts that need to be replaced or repaired.

Using a digital twin, a digital representation of a physical object, we can easily monitor the system and make changes after testing on the digital twin. This helps in reducing the possible failures in the system. This digital twin is constructed by gathering information from physical objects through 3D lasers, drones, cameras, sensors, and IoT devices.

Conclusion

IoT is highly important in obtaining energy sustainability and efficiency, whose main goal is optimizing production, distribution, and consumption. IoT contributes to reducing the carbon footprint.

Updated on: 21-Feb-2023

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