3 Big Technologies Driving Energy Efficiency
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- Jan 14, 2020 12:26 am GMT
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Energy efficiency can be approached in multiple ways by various stakeholders, including utilities, their customers, and regulators. One factor emerging for all of them is technology and its ability to influence this process. While many innovations are currently driving energy efficiency, the three below are becoming more recognized as valuable tools critical to these efforts.
While still an emerging technology, the Internet of Things (IoT) is familiar to many people who have devices such as the Nest thermostat in their homes. The innovation of IoT is that devices have sensors that collect information that can be used to automate specific tasks (such as adjusting the thermostat in a house).
This technology can not only help energy customers (or customer-producers, also known as prosumers) adjust temperatures but can also help them achieve greater efficiency. This process occurs when the device learns the typical habits of a home’s inhabitants and creates routines based on them. For example, the device may gather that the thermostat is turned down at 10:00 every night before the occupants go to bed. It may automatically start to make that adjustment earlier, reducing the total amount of power needed to heat the home each day.
Within a home or business environment, artificial intelligence (AI) can provide analysis that alerts energy users to potential waste or inefficiency. It can be integrated with IoT devices to automatically make recommended adjustments.
In a situation in which a home, business, or neighborhood uses both locally generated solar or wind power and utility generated power, AI can use data from all sources to determine the most efficient use of each one. For example, it can designate when to use locally generated energy for power, when to store it, and when to sell it to the utility.
The backbone of AI is data, which can be collected from smart meters, PV panels, wind turbines, utilities, and other sources.
As a peer-to-peer record-keeping system, blockchain can help prosumers involved in a power generation co-op determine their own energy needs and use. This technology can be used in conjunction with AI and IoT. For example, an IoT device may send energy use data to an AI system, which automatically determines the appropriate transactions, performs them, and sends the them to a blockchain ledger.
Energy efficiency is recognized by many as a critical factor in addressing the energy challenges faced by the world today. As one illustration, the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) has announced that it will invest nearly $20 million in projects that, among other things, serve as a foundation for reducing building energy consumption.
The technologies mentioned here are just a few of those poised to create an entirely new energy distribution system than what we’ve grown used to. In addition to improving efficiency, this new system will contribute to critical environmental goals and user cost savings.
What energy efficiency successes have you seen with IoT, AI, and blockchain? Please share in the comments.