The power industry is the preparation of the industrial world, providing commercial, industrial, manufacturing and residential customers with essential energy. Being a continually growing industry, the electricity industry faces a drastic challenge of coping with the ever increasing demand for electrical power.

According to ReportLinker, energy consumption is predicted to grow internationally by more than 40% over the next 25 years. So as to satisfy this challenge without raising prices for customers, the electrical power industry is on the lookout for smart solutions.

The Internet of Things (IoT) opens a whole new smart reality to the utility business, streamlining costs through optimizing operating inefficiency.

Industry 4.0 and What the Internet of Things Mean

Here, we will cover Industry 4.0, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which reshapes the way a lot of industries function. The First Industrial Revolution utilized stream and water power to mechanize production, the next one used electricity and assembly lines to create mass manufacturing.

The Third Revolution came with the computerization, paving the way for the IoT that is currently playing the HUGE part in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Internet of Things, abbreviated as IoT, is a system of connected devices, which have actuation and potential programmability capabilities. 

Essentially, an IoT-embedded system can connect different item via programs, enabling thereby collection of data from various devices, that can be tracked and managed in real time.

Challenges of the Electric Power Industry

The Electric Power Industry does not only struggle with a growing demand for energy, but it also faces such challenges as tough emission regulation, rising reliability expectations, ageing infrastructure, the spread of distributed energy resources (DER), a retiring workforce.

All these critical factors combined stimulate companies to search for ways to run businesses more effectively by using lean operations with the aim to create value for their stakeholders. One of the solutions that can make it possible lies in the modernization of grid infrastructure.

What IoT can offer to the Electric Power Industry

IoT is vital to most problem areas in this industry. IoT includes three core elements, that make this technology so prominent: asset digitalization, asset data collection, and computational algorithms to manage the network created by the interconnected assets.

All these components can enhance the efficiency and performance of the electric power grid at three levels: obtaining data from different sensors enhances the durability of the grid, as a result, giving power companies an opportunity to manage resources more efficiently based on the information collected from assets and eventually leading to decision regards power generation and usage.

In the long term, implementation of IoT allows electric power companies to improve efficiency, reduce unscheduled downtime, lower prices and minimize risks related to assets.

A Smart Grid

Today, a smart grid envisages implementation of digital technologies in electric power networks, primarily digital control appliances, and intelligent monitoring systems. An intelligent grid can offer a lot of potential economic and environmental benefits such as enhanced reliability of electricity quality and transmission, enhanced power distribution efficiency, reduced costs for electric utilities, as well as lower gas emissions.

In essence, the modern grid is moving from a one-way system, where power flows from a centralized generation station to customers, to a system, which can detect and manage decentralized consumption and production assets enabling power and information flow in several directions.

Applying IoT technologies in the Electric Power Industry

The electric power industry consists of three core elements: electricity generation, which converts primary energy resources into electricity; power distribution of electricity to millions of people; and power transmission, that connects generators to distributors. 

All these procedures can be significantly improved and developed by implementing Industry 4.0 technology.

  • Three core components of EPI
  • IoT applications: Energy Generation
  • Remote Asset Management

IoT-powered asset tracking and management are one of the most promising applications in the power generation context. Such IoT methods connect employees, stakeholders and assets across the whole business chain into a single network.

In addition, connected sensors, embedded in assets, are able to measure wear, vibration, tear, temperature, etc. to estimate the overall state of assets from turbines to transmission lines. Adoption of IoT in electricity generation offers real-time alerts, predictive analytics, automatic reporting and real-time visibility.

Process Optimization

Smart IoT-powered analytics solution can significantly improve operational procedures, allowing utility companies to achieve better performance and output. IoT system provides real-time data on the overall state of a generation station, therefore leading to plant automation.

Analyzing huge amounts of data in real time, power generation can achieve affordability, sustainability, and availability while reducing the costs of maintenance.

Decentralized Energy Generation

In today’s day and age, centralized power plants are widely spread, providing most industrialized countries with electricity. However, this centralized approach has been proved inefficient due to energy losses during transmission and lack of reliability guaranty.

By contrast, the alternative approach — decentralized electricity generation — appears to be more reliable and cost-effective. Decentralization in this context means getting electricity from localized, multiple, energy networks.

IoT Applications: Energy Transmission

Industry 4.0 Asset Maintenance Management

Power transmission and distribution usually include electrical substation equipment, transmission lines, generators, transformers, etc. All this equipment requires constant monitoring in order to avoid faults like overloading, vandalization, etc.

IoT-embedded asset management solution allows to track and track physical assets and their data.

With IoT technologies implemented, asset maintenance systems can discover the sources of failures and faults before the latter becomes crucial, thereby improving reliability and availability of the assets.

Grid Balancing

The ability of IoT to deliver real-time information can significantly contribute to balancing between energy supply and energy demand, effectively managing congestions on transmission and distribution (T&D) lines.

Optimization of Grid Contribution

Renewable energy as a source for electricity generation is gaining traction. According to bp, in 2017 the share of renewable electricity in global electricity generation was up to 8.4%, constituting almost 50% of the growth in global power generation. IoT also found its place in this context.

By properly implementing IoT-powered system for grid participation, excess energy generated by solar panels at the rooftops or wind plants can be redistributed and sold to the grid.

Industry 4.0 Summary

Industry 4.0 has the potential to significantly transform the electric power market. It is all about the connection of assets, data and technology personalization. More and more devices and sensors are being connected to the digital world.

By using post-time and real-time information with analytics, IoT can enhance the reliability of assets, reduce operational costs, eliminate unplanned downtime, allowing electric power companies achieve higher productivity.

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