From smart homes to smart grids, the Internet of Things (IoT) has received a warm welcome in the energy sector.
Florida-based electric power holding company Duke Energy claims it has created a self-healing grid system to automatically reconfigure itself when you lose power in the home.
It says the electrical system has the capacity to automatically detect, isolate, and reroute power when a problem occurs.
Digital smart sensors at sub stations and on powerlines detect problems and communicate with this with the control system. Switches then automatically isolate the damaged section of line.
In theory, the control system continually monitors the state of the grid and determines the best way to reroute power to as many people as possible. It then automatically reconfigures the electric grid to restore power on the line. This should all happen in less than a minute.
The state of Indiana is currently modernizing its state-wide energy grid, so expect a verdict on this technology in due course.
Pacific Gas & Electric Company
Pacific Gas & Electricity Company (PG&E) said in May that it was testing drones to enhance the safety and reliability of its electric and gas service.
The test programs aim to explore the feasibility of using safety drones to monitor electric infrastructure in hard-to-reach areas and to detect methane leaks across its 70,000 square-mile service area.
Initial results look positive. The company has revealed that the use of drones for safety inspections is much easier and reduces risk to employees.
PG&E is currently working with NASA to test methane sensors. Watch this space for further updates on the trials.
Energy giant, EDF, is getting warm and cozy with Amazon. The firm says it has created an easy way for customers to control their account through Amazon’s Alexa voice service.
The EDF Energy skill – Amazon’s version of an app – should let customers interact with Amazon’s hands-free, voice-controlled speaker, the Echo to check their account balance and next payment date, among other things.
Handy if you happen to love Amazon devices and get your energy supply from EDF.
The National Grid is using demand side response company, Open Energi’s Direct Demand technology to balance supply and demand across the UK’s power grid.
Open Energi says the technology aggregates energy consumption from across customers’ sites to provide a fast, flexible solution which is equivalent to a power station, but instead of adjusting supply up or down to meet demand, it adjusts demand up or down to meet supply.
Supposedly, Dynamic Demand provides National Grid with a fast demand response and enables consumers to better manage their consumption, freeing up capacity for the whole grid.
The roll-out is ongoing, but Open Energi says Dynamic Demand has been installed at more than 50 sites to date.
The future of energy will not just be decided by the traditional service providers, not if Nissan has anything to do with it, anyway.
The auto manufacturer has partnered with ENEL, one of Europe’s largest power companies, to develop a ‘Vehicle-to-Grid’ system. The companies say this system will allow drivers and energy users to operate as individual energy hubs with the ability to use, store and return excess energy to the grid.
The first trials for the tech will be held in Denmark, with Germany, the Netherlands and some other European countries following thereafter, presumably if the trials are successful.
In New York, Brooklyn Microgrid has created a connected network for energy. The group says it is using blockchain technology to enable the first peer-to-peer energy exchange and an emerging energy internet, according to Fast Coexist.
The project, called TransActive Grid, is a joint venture between Brooklyn Microgrid developer LO3 Energy and blockchain technology developer ConsenSys.
The grid includes a hardware layer of smart meters and a software layer using blockchain. The participants’ homes are equipped with smart meters linked to the blockchain to track the electricity generated and used in the homes and manage transactions between neighbors.
As Fast Coexist explains: “On one side of President Street, five homes with solar panels generate electricity. On the other side, five homes buy power when the opposite homes don’t need it. In the middle is a blockchain network, managing and recording transactions with little human interaction.”
General Electric is no stranger to the IoT space. The company has just taken $800 million in digital industrial power orders across Asia-Pacific, and shows no signs of slowing down its bet on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
General Electric’s Asset Performance Management software is being used in a number of power plants to connect disparate data sources and to aid data analysis.
To make the tech tick, sensors are placed on key infrastructure, such as gas turbines, to monitor and collect data on operations and efficiency. The data collected can then be analyzed in the cloud to provide real-time updates on the use of gas within a plant.
For more detail, click here to see what GE is doing with Tepco in Japan.
RWE claims to have created one of the first shared solar power energy systems in the world.
Called The Shine, RWE claims the software offers users an easy to use home energy management system, which lets them optimize their use of solar energy. Users can also connect with others to share, buy or sell locally-generated green energy, as reported in Utility Week.
The Shine will be commercially available in Germany before it reaches the UK.
IoT has the power to connect even the most hard-to-reach areas.
UK power and gas supplier, E.ON is working with SSE Enterprise Telecoms to digitise its wind farm estate in the Scottish Highlands by connecting them to the internet.
Supposedly, SSE’s national Carrier Ethernet MPLS services provide E.ON with a meshed network that ‘guarantees that the critical communications systems that enable the control and live monitoring of each site are always available’ even in the more remote and torrid conditions.
E.ON says it now knows exactly how its business is performing across the highlands.
Last but not least is Hive. British Gas’ smart home meter has already made an impact upon many consumers lives (300,000 in the UK as of April this year) and needs little introduction.
Most recently, British Gas announced Hive 2. It’s a major upgrade on the initial Hive launch, giving consumers the option to control heating and hot water remotely from an app on a smartphone.
According to our IoB tech guru and contributing editor, Jan Maciejewski, “Hive is well on its way to creating a new standard in the home.”
For a deeper understanding, check out Jan’s review from earlier this year.
The Internet of Energy is Europe’s only forum dedicated to exploring the business case for the internet of things in the energy industry. Through early-adopter case studies from traditional utilities and perspectives of new ‘disrupters’, the event will explore the opportunities for the energy eco-system in an age of IoT. Click here for further details.