Technology has always driven infrastructure, from the invention of the wheel to the harnessing of steam power pivotal to the industrial revolution, causing a ripple effect on society as a whole.
The energy industry is undergoing its own revolution as new energy methods are developed and improved. Homeowners are installing their own solar panels and people are purchasing electric vehicles, making the conscious decision to switch to cleaner energy solutions now that a wider choice is available.
The IoT is a key driver in this revolution, integrating devices, infrastructure, data, devices and remote access to create newer processes as well as streamlining existing methods by lowering costs and improving energy efficiency.
New technology has already begun to be implemented in the energy maintenance industry, but this has been one area which is slow to change. We take a look at some of the upcoming technology out there and how it will impact maintenance in the energy industry.
Future-ready power grids are enhanced with communication technology such as monitoring and automation tools that provide real-time data as to energy production and activity, which can be actively managed to optimise efficiency and reliability. Smart grids provide the necessary infrastructure ready to support future renewable technologies such as solar and wind energy, which becomes more important the larger the operation. Updates and remote monitoring also help with the maintenance effective maintenance operations which reduce labour costs and inspection time.
Safety, security and compliance are some of the biggest concerns in the energy industry and regular inspections are carried out to ensure that these concerns are met. Utility workers often face hazards when conducting inspections, for example, assets such as wind turbines require working at heights which puts them at risk. Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS’s or drones) feature powerful cameras and stabilisation, meaning that inspections can be completed remotely, saving time, money and improving worker safety.
Data Analytics and Visualisation
IoT devices such as high powered apps can be useful for the management of assets and operations. Smart sensors and tracking on connected infrastructure allow for real-time monitoring across the entire system at all times, with the ability to incorporate notifications for important updates. An accurate understanding of past and present energy output can help to predict future trends and allow businesses to adapt to meet demand.
Large Scale Application
IoT allows for real-time updates of power usage across the national grid. If an energy company is aware of the peaks and troughs of energy consumption, this allows them to forecast when to ramp up energy production to meet demands. It also provides a chance to understand when the best times to perform maintenance are. For example daily or seasonal usage.
The application of IoT makes completely autonomous energy operations possible. With a wealth of previous data available, this makes it possible to build energy distribution methods which are completely autonomous, putting systems in place to react to certain conditions, such as shutting down faulty equipment and manage operations completely autonomously unless intervention is required.