As the intensifying debate around climate change amplifies, the energy sector is continuing its trend toward phasing out fossil fuels and moving towards reliance on renewable energy.
The American Energy Information Administration (EIA) has reported that it expects about 65 GW of coal power to be retired between now and 2030 and that nearly 90 GW has already been phased out since 2011. The latest reports from EIA also contain the prediction that renewable energy in the US is likely to make up 50% of the energy generation mix by 2030.
The government in Spain predicts an estimated 34% reduction in fossil fuel consumption in primary energy by 2030 (in comparison to 2017 data). The Law 7/2021, 20th of May 2021, on Climate Change and Energy Transition actually set binding new goals of achieving 42% of renewable energy use in total final energy consumption by 2030 and 74% of the generation of electricity from renewables by 2030.
The UK Government has defined ambitious energy goals, defined in their Net Zero Policy, to be carbon neutral by 2050. This includes increasing its renewable energy production to cover all demand by 2035, with a huge focus on offshore wind production. To find out more about what it means to be carbon neutral, take a look at this article about carbon neutrality and climate neutrality.
There is also growing reliance on technology to control power generation infrastructure to positively impact efficiency and productivity. According to energytech.com, in 2022 and beyond, there will be increasingly more grids that are controlled and operated by artificial intelligence and machine-to-machine learning.
In this article, you will find out the technology trends for 2022 sweeping the energy sector and the challenges involved.
3 Technical Challenges in the Energy Sector
1. Leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT)
One of the top Energy Industry Technology Trends involves the deployment of IoT in full swing at energy companies. With the cost of IoT devices plummeting, it is becoming more and more efficient for energy companies to implement progressive technology solutions such as smart meters. And why use IoT? Find some of the main benefits and uses of IoT devices in energy management in this article.
This kind of technical implementation can help companies reduce costs significantly while at the same time boosting productivity. However, the cost involved in implementing smart meters continues to be daunting (likely to exceed $100 billion according to some estimates) even though the cost savings and benefits of implementing the same are likely to surpass the costs.
Transitioning to a smart grid requires buy-ins from the very highest levels of the organization because it does require additional investment in upgrades such as real-time demand response, integrated communications, sensing and measurement, Phasor Measurement Units, power system automation, and more. It is necessary for business leaders to understand that in order to truly leverage the data being collected by the sprawling network of IoT sensors, you will also need to invest in a centralized data management platform and cloud storage.
One of the benefits of cloud storage includes the possibility to access your data from different devices and locations. Also, in case of a technical problem, the cloud system providers have backup systems to guarantee their safety. Of course, some detractors may say that the cloud isn’t safe, or that they prefer to hold their data in their own physical devices. In this article, you can read about the main myths about Software as a Service (SaaS) and on-premise software options. A useful resource if you’re convincing your team or your clients to move to the cloud.
2. Focus on Creating a Positive Customer Experience
Customers are more aware of energy efficiency and concerned about their carbon footprint than ever before. They want to have transparent information at their fingertips and the convenience of choosing from a variety of options.
Energy providers need to keep in mind this changing mindset and demands from customers. They need to be proactive and offer choices, but this can be quite difficult to achieve in practical terms given the often outdated and clunky infrastructure many utilities continue to deal with.
The energy industry needs to focus on offering user-friendly consumer apps and web portals, with transparent access to their energy usage, past consumption patterns, and handy tips and tricks to optimize their energy consumption. The DEXMA Platform is a solution for utilities that want to offer a tried and tested solution to their customers. It’s intuitive, customizable, and collates the most important energy information for users.
Customers also want good support and bill payment processes to be secure and available 24/7. The cost of not providing customers with what they want can prove exorbitant for energy companies. A recent IBM study found that a bad app experience can trigger nearly 47% of customers to switch to the competition and 63% of consumers to publicize their bad experience. This is why adapting your services to your customers and being flexible towards them will help you with client loyalty and retention. You can find more information about digitalisation for b2b customers in this recent webinar.
3. Effective Management of Security Risks in Energy Management
As with all industries, cybersecurity is a major concern for the energy sector. Organisations need to grant easy access to customers while protecting their data and guaranteeing backups for safety. In a recent advisory, the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) advised energy companies to put in place a strong cybersecurity risk management program with bi-directional risk information sharing and integration with the electricity subsector cybersecurity capability maturity model (C2M2).
Energy companies have a wide range of other security measures to consider such as biometric authentication, multi-factor authentication, strong password policies, strong VPN and other cloaking technology. These are important to protect clients’ data, as well as to ensure the correct functioning of the software.
Energy Sector Technology Latest Trends
The decentralization model is quickly picking up base in the energy sector. Companies are trying to transition as fast as possible from the traditional model of distributing energy from central power stations and turning towards a model wherein consumers are also producers (‘prosumers’), thereby enabling the flow of electricity both ways. We have spoken about the energy communities and how they are growing world-wide in this article.
This is made possible through the increasing adoption of cheaper rooftop solar panels, storage batteries, wind turbines, and other such technology solutions.
In fact, this trend could be key to minimizing the industry’s carbon emissions, thanks to the use of micro-renewables, energy storage, and lower transmission loss as electricity needs to travel less. This can also go a long way to reduce the burden on aged grids during peak hours and potentially even support the rise of localized ‘microgrids’ that can be cut off from the main grid when necessary.
Implementing decentralization does involve considerable challenges in terms of grid operations, as the systems become inherently more complex and unpredictable. But these challenges can be met with a proactive approach toward investing in technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) early on.
The Internet of Energy
The IoT has the potential to help both energy companies and consumers to use energy far more efficiently, and dramatically reduce costs and emissions. The Internet of Energy (IoE) means applying the IoT to the energy sector. IoT has vast applications in demand-side management, equipment monitoring, and reducing energy wastage through the use of real-time data to respond to demand changes with improved agility and precision and lowering instances of dangerous equipment malfunction or failure.
These energy trends are definitely high in 2022, and with time we’ll see if they are here to stay or if they’re replaced by new ones. Managed IT Services Vancouver can help energy companies study and implement relevant Energy Sector Trends. If you want to know more about energy efficiency, our software and how to optimise your energy management, get in touch with our experts.
Editor’s Note – This guest post has been written by Andrew Dalman, President of ActiveCo Technology Management and IT Consulting Vancouver company.
Andrew comes from an operational perspective; his tenure at ActiveCo emphasizes working with customers to closely understand their business plans and successfully incorporate the technology component into those plans. Under his leadership, ActiveCo has developed expertise that focuses on enriching the extensive customer relationships by integrating strategic and operational focus areas through consulting. When Andrew is not in the office, you can find him spending time with his wife and daughter getting outside, travelling, and pursuing adventures together.