The human population is growing rapidly. In 1800, the global human population was at 1 billion and now in 2023, we are at 8 billion. Interestingly the fastest doubling of the world population was during 1950 to 1987, post-World War 2, when it just took 37 years to double the global population from 2.5B to 5B. Fascinating, right? Well, the WW2 had just ended. With increasing human population, the global energy consumption is also increasing and we are now extremely focused on renewal energy solutions. With growing energy demands, it becomes necessary to monitor energy consumption and ensure loss less energy distribution, from generation to consumption. Compared to 2017, in 2018 the global energy demand rose 2.3%, which hasn’t been seen 2010. Not only that, the carbon emission has also increased to unprecedented level and the global warming is expected to reach 1.5 degree Celsius by mid-21st century. And if the same trends continue, the global warming will breach the 2-degree Celsius mark and have severe impact on this planet and the human and animal lives as well. Scarce water resources, flooding, high temperature, and barren lands, the problems would be unfathomable.
This demands for a technology lead energy supply chain management from generation to consumption and energy saving efforts by the people. Apart from that, use of renewal energy is also needed to help this planet.
The Internet of Things (IoT) has revolutionized many industries, and the energy supply chain is no exception. With IoT technology integration, energy supply chains have been transformed, creating new efficiencies, improving safety, and enhancing overall performance.
Before we delve into the transformation of the energy supply chain due to the integration of IoT technology, let’s see what IoT is how it works:
Internet of Technology and Sensors
The internet of things has evolved over the years and now with billions of devices connected to the internet (IoT devices exceeded the human population way back in 2010), the internet of things has truly become the internet of everything. It is now not just limited to smartphones and the internet.
Typically, Internet of Things is Machine to Machine communication but there should be communication over the internet as well. In fact, IoT evolved from M2M communications and Radio Frequency Identification. With the tremendous achievement and new innovations in internet (Internet 5G), more IoT devices and innovations are coming every day.
Now we have proximity sensors, temperature and humidity sensors, light sensors, air pressure sensors and sensors that can meter energy distribution and consumption and share data over the internet as well.
Apart from that, there are various low power consuming short range technologies such as Bluetooth low energy (BLE), which enables data sharing up to 30m and long-range wide area networks such as LoRaWAN, which also use low energy to enable communication over a wide area, such as a smart city project. This allows efficient metering and real-time data sharing, preventing energy theft.
In essence, IoT uses internet to provide connectivity between physical devices, hence the name Internet of Things.
IoT and the Energy Supply Chain
When it comes to technology enabling a smart energy supply chain, IoT technology has enabled the creation of smart grid systems, which have transformed energy supply chains. The Smart grids are intelligent systems that manage electricity generation, transmission, and consumption through connected devices and sensors making the energy grid more responsive, efficient, and reliable in managing peak loads and power outages.
These intelligent systems can transmit data in real-time, allowing for quicker response time in identifying issues and resolving them. The energy grid is now more secure and resilient, with better power quality monitoring and enhanced cyber-security systems.
Moreover, IoT has enabled the development of energy management systems that enable real-time monitoring, analyzing, and optimizing energy consumption across different energy users using various sensors. Smart meters are now used to track energy usage by consumers, allowing the utility companies to bill accurately, optimize power usage, and reduce energy waste and this results in energy savings for consumers, reduction in carbon emissions, and lower energy bills. Additionally, IoT sensors installed in appliances in homes or businesses can detect and alert owners of equipment malfunctions, allowing for efficient repairs and replacements.
IoT and Predictive Maintenance
Predictive Maintenance is the ability to predict the failure of certain machinery or system by analyzing the usage and maintenance schedules. IoT technology has enabled predictive maintenance for energy equipments which has been a great advantage. With the installation of IoT sensors, predictive algorithms can detect potential problems and alert maintenance teams of the issue before it causes any significant damage which creates efficiencies in energy asset management, reducing downtime and costly repairs.
For instance, a wind turbine's IoT sensors can detect when the turbine's blades start to degrade and alert maintenance teams, resulting in quicker and efficient repairs.
IoT has transformed the energy supply chain management industry, making it more efficient, reliable, and sustainable. Smart grids, energy management systems, and predictive maintenance have all been made possible with IoT integration, enabling real-time data analysis, efficient usage of energy, and quick response times. The technology has revolutionized the energy industry, creating new business models, services, and products that are safer, more secure and environmentally friendly which is the need of the hour.