This special interest group covers mobile technologies and approaches that are helping utilities do business today. 


Energy Harvesting IoT Options Take Shape

image credit: Photo 107585560 / Computer Energy © Geza Farkas |
Paul Korzeniowski's picture
B2B Content producer, Self-employed

Paul is a seasoned (basically old) freelance B2B content producer. Through the years, he has written more than 10,000 items (blogs, news stories, white papers, case studies, press releases and...

  • Member since 2011
  • 1,519 items added with 525,110 views
  • Jan 30, 2023

Energy companies are deploying mobile, edge, Internet of Things (IoT) devices in growing numbers. The idea is to offload processing at remote locations and dimmish the network load for remote workforce applications. One challenge is the applications constantly require energy to run. Typically, batteries have been used as the primary energy source, but momentum is building for energy harvesting options.
IoT is a network of smart sensors and applications that improves energy company machine and equipment performance. These sensors capture and transfer data, such as providing information about how hot a remote transformer runs. Use of the technology has been growing, and the number of applications has been rising because the applications enable energy companies to service their equipment proactively and more effectively.

One challenge is IoT sensors need power to operate and generally rely on batteries, which have limitations. Their shelf life is finite and sometimes short, so they need to be replaced, which often means dumping them in landfills. Also, utilities require tools to monitor their power usage, which fluctuates.

Ambient Energy’s Advantages

Energy harvesting is emerging as a potential solution to these problems. Here, IoT systems gather energy from ambient sources, such as solar, thermal, and flow.

The potential advantages are:

  • No longer replace batteries
  • Have power in remote, hard-to-reach, or unsafe areas where maintenance of devices is challenging
  • Environmentally friendly approach

However, mobile device energy harvesting also has downsides. The technology is in a nascent stage and not widely available. Some systems are more prototype than production ready, so utilities may have to help suppliers get the bugs out.  

Because of the early stage of their deployments, their full lifecycle is unknown. A short life span for energy harvesting devices offsets their potential value.  In fact, energy harvesting IoT devices can cost as much as 2X more than battery-powered hardware.

Best practices are only starting to emerge. Power generation sometimes depends on the ambient energy’s suitability and viability. For instance, device placement is a key factor in determining if solar energy is an option.

Energy companies are deploying mobile IoT solutions in growing numbers. Ensuring that these products have the energy needed to operate has been difficult. Energy harvesting solutions are emerging that not only meet that need but also are environmentally friendly. However, they are in an early stage of development, so deployment hurdles may arise.


No discussions yet. Start a discussion below.

Paul Korzeniowski's picture
Thank Paul for the Post!
Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.
More posts from this member

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network® is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »