Ways the Internet of Things is Improving the Energy Sector

Posted on January 11, 2018

A British Gas smart meter

Controlling everything from your smartphone is normal these days, connected devices are everywhere – especially in the home. Voice-activated assistants can turn on your lightbulbs or tell you what’s in the fridge, your phone can turn on the kettle while you walk back from the shops. These changes to our daily lives all use and require energy – but how is the Internet of Things changing the industry and is it improving it? 

Energy Consumption in Homes and Businesses

Since the introduction of smart meters in 2009, more than 8 million UK homes and businesses are using the devices to measure energy usage. As well as being billed for actual usage rather than estimates from energy providers, users can easily adapt their usage to be more efficient and less wasteful. Seeing that leaving the big lamp in the hallway on costs £2 a week, or £104 a year, is a big incentive to be more eco-friendly. 

The integration of apps with the meters is also changing the way energy is used. Being able to control the heating from a smartphone means turning on the heating on the way home from work rather than leaving it on all day. British Gas claims that customers could save £130 a year by not heating an empty home. 

Energy Distribution

Integrating internet connectivity into equipment and plants at all stages of energy creation, storage and distribution means that data is provided which gives meaningful and actionable insights. For instance we are now seeing sensors on wind turbines that control rotation and pitch in real-time response to the weather. Now substations can automatically respond to energy peaks and troughs to minimise downtimes. Managing demand efficiently with data driven insights and real-time responses from automated networks is minimising waste caused by overprovisioning base or peak load. 

Optimising the energy mix being used is helping to prevent power outages, control demand surges and increase the capacity of renewable sources. Utilities can respond effectively to intermittency from industrial-scale wind or solar farms as well as smaller operations while ensuring security of supply. 

With increased data flow between consumers, power stations and suppliers more efficient energy distribution is starting to take place. There are plans for customers on smart tariffs to be able to take advantage of off-peak pricing, for example at night or when there is plentiful supply because wind turbines are working at full capacity, putting the washing machine on would cost less than at a peak time. 

Changing the Jobs Market

We’ve previously discussed jobs created by the IoT, but its also changing the demand on certain sectors and departments. The shift in where personnel is needed within energy companies is changing rapidly alongside the rise in automation. Security is a huge concern, if an energy network was compromised, hackers could shut down networks – affecting power supply to homes, hospitals or government. Cyber threats are a key fear for connected companies, jobs in IT security are increasing – there are hundreds of positions at all levels, with high levels of management being rewarded with big salaries. As well as security analysts, data analysts are needed too. Now that every device, interaction and command creates data, companies need analysts to determine what that data means to them and to their service and how it can be improved. 

If you are interested in smart technology, have you considered a career in the industry? At People with Energy, we partner with firms that are looking for experienced staff to work in the development and roll-out of these cutting-edge products. 

Check out our smart technology job vacancies and, if you see something you are interested in, send your CV to cvs@peoplewithenergy.co.uk.

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