IoT in Energy and Utilities: An In-Depth Look

One of the most important sectors in existence, we rely on energy and other utilities for a wide variety of things. Indeed, despite the fact that we are attempting to create more green-friendly methods of acquiring energy and other utilities, the world as a whole, is still very much dependent on energy to regulate various aspects of our lives. In fact, given the vast array of residences and businesses in existence, our use of energy is on the increase, with no signs of slowing down. This has created a major problem. Energy companies are now struggling to expand at the rates they will need to in order to accommodate this increasing demand.

In particular, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the world’s energy consumption will rise by a staggering 48% by 2040. Moreover, energy consumption is also projected to increase by 43% by the year 2022, in the United States alone. However, given the fact that many companies are dealing with aging infrastructure and equipment, many companies are struggling to keep up. Additionally, with other options such as solar, wind energy, and more, if companies do not keep up with this increasing demand, they could lose control of this industry indefinitely. Therefore, we need to start working on solutions preemptively. The use of IoT, or the Internet of Things technology, could totally transform this industry for the better.

About the IoT

For those who are yet unfamiliar, the IoT is an interrelated system of computing devices, people, animals, and mechanical/ digital machines, all of which are provided with UIDs (unique identifiers) as well as the ability to transfer data without necessarily involving human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. While the definition of the IoT has changed over time, it involves the convergence of multiple technologies such as the following:

  • Machine learning
  • Real-time analytics
  • Commodity sensors
  • Embedded systems

Either way, when applied to the energy and utility realm, the IoT can provide an array of benefits.

The IoT and Energy and Utilities

The IoT is essentially ushering in a new era of energy and utilities. The various insights that can be accessed using IoT can drastically transform the industry overnight. In particular, the information collected using IoT and the IoT cloud can be used to develop new, more efficient services, boost productivity and overall efficiency, solve critical and potentially detrimental issues, improve our ability to make real-time decisions, and even create a new and overall more innovative user experience for us all. By upgrading to smart meters and grids as well as offering home automation, companies can once again gain control of this wildly flourishing industry.

IoT Energy and Utility Implementation

Given the major demand for IoT solutions, IoT will likely soon be implemented on a grand scale. However, as mentioned, given that there are now other energy and utility options for consumers, they must do so in a way that is beneficial to not only the consumers but the world at large. By embracing and implementing these options into their existing services, energy companies can recapture the industry as well as the trust of the average consumer.

Rather than shunning these new methods of acquiring energy, energy companies can simply embrace them and use them to the advantage of us all. IoT is the key to this collaboration. By providing much-needed real-time data and insights, using the IoT will enable energy companies to manage infrastructure and function, thus creating a more stable network overall. This will ultimately allow energy companies to begin using wind and solar energy to boost the efficiency of services while also reducing the cost to consumers.

The Trouble with Adapting the IoT

Despite the fact that the IoT has grown leaps and bounds over the years, the energy industry has not. Indeed, while IoT is based on and driven by innovation, the energy industry is becoming antiquated and many companies are very much struggling to maintain the status quo. Either way, the development of these new forms of energy have enabled many startup companies to compete with major energy conglomerates. This is something that was virtually unthinkable just a few decades ago. This has put a lot of pressure on energy companies to quickly catch up with these new methods and technologies. Therefore, many companies are stuck between a rock and a hard place as they attempt to find ways to cut costs all while slowly implementing the necessary upgrades to compete moving forward.

Furthermore, although there will be plenty of benefits of implementing the IoT in the long-term, this will not be without its costs. In particular, this widespread implementation of the IoT and its associated devices and products is projected to cost companies $100 billion. However, its benefits are valued at $160 billion. Therefore, while this implementation is at a high cost, it will come with even higher rewards.

The IoT Necessity

Despite the fact that the implementation of the IoT will be highly costly initially, it is actually the best option energy and utility companies have to keep up with the changing and growing demands in a more forward-thinking world. Gone are the days in which energy companies simply set up shop and enjoy maintaining a monopoly for centuries. Companies that are reluctant to embrace these new methods will eventually be left in the cold. However, embracing this technology will afford these companies with more longevity as they will be able to offer services that are more stable and efficient as well as cost-effective. And more importantly, this will enable them to compete with the wide variety of startup companies that are already providing their customers with these perks.

Government Involvement

In addition to pressure from consumers and startups, energy and utility companies are now facing pressure from the government. For instance, the US Department of energy is presently in pursuit of a smart grid that can help boost the use of green energy while driving down costs in mass. They have also begun installing smart meters (though on a small scale), to begin to test and iron out the issues before offering these solutions on a grander scale. Therefore, energy companies are being all but forced to invest in IoT technology to keep up with everyone around them. This means that IoT solution providers are in a great position across the globe. Overall, the IoT was once a scary concept to energy companies as it seemed to threaten their abilities to maintain massive amounts of customers without worrying about competitors. However, by embracing this technology, energy and utility companies will not only be in a position to survive, but many of them will continue to thrive. Either way, the dated methods of providing energy are being phased out and the IoT services are helping to usher in a new, more effective way of providing energy to us all.