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6 Technologies Disrupting the Power Industry

Vernon Glick's picture
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Vernon Glick is an experienced and passionate writer & blogger by profession with years of experience in delivering unique and high-quality content. He keeps exploring the web and loves to do...

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  • Dec 24, 2018
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It's not startling to learn that disruptive technologies like machine learning, cloud computing, big data analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) have shaken up various industries. 

Machine intelligence has helped organizations simplify and automate back-office operations. IoT and the cloud are taking customer relationship management and services to the next level. Immersive technologies like virtual, augmented, and mixed reality are making workplace training easy and interactive. The blockchain is all set to make business transactions safe and transparent.

However, the big question is – which of these technologies are disrupting the power domain? 

Historically, utilities have been hesitant to adopt the latest technological innovations. However, this scenario is changing as technology is disrupting the value chain in the energy segment. 

The modern technologies shared in this post are reshaping the power domain to create a smart, connected, efficient, and sustainable system. 
    
1) Cloud Computing

In this internet age, the cloud has been a boon to several industries, improving the security, speed, service quality, and profitability of businesses worldwide. 

One of the biggest challenges facing the energy domain is connecting and monitoring large-scale systems across various geographies. The cloud enables energy businesses around the world to collaborate and share information instantly, and deliver effective solutions to customers. 

When combined with data analytics, cloud computing can be used by power plants to understand grid patterns and the potential areas of concern. This can significantly boost the efficiency of the system and lower the total cost.

Cloud computing is helping the power domain pool computer-intensive applications, ensure superior operational agility, build strong customer relationships, and transition to alternatives with less carbon footprint. 

2) Big Data Analytics

With the application of smart sensors, network communication, and cloud computing technology, the power domain is continuously bombarded with a large amount of data. 

Moreover, with the introduction of smart grids, the amount of data available to this segment will only increase. In fact, according to ABI Research, by 2022, the number of smart home sensor installations is expected to cross 4.5 billion.

This gigantic amount of data is valuable only when used to draw valuable insights. This is where big data analytics can help! 

Advanced big data analytics techniques can help utilities optimize two of their most important decision-making processes, power generation planning, and economic load dispatch. This will enable utility businesses to match power supply with the demand for energy from the grid. 

Furthermore, the output of renewable energy grids, namely wind, and solar power, heavily depends on weather conditions. Big data analytics can help forecast accurate output by integrating total energy production and consumption data, GIS data, and weather data.

Lastly, big data analytics can help determine the best sites for renewable power generation devices using satellite imagery (spatial planning), thereby improving the energy output and efficiency.

3) Artificial and Machine Intelligence

Artificial intelligence applications can help power plants analyze and understand historical and real-time data. The insights derived can be used to make informed decisions pertaining to predictive maintenance, workforce capacity management, emergency planning, and seasonal service patterns, among others.

AI employs predictive machine-learning algorithms to manage energy in households and gives users a foresight of their energy profile, thereby optimizing power usage.

Although this technology is in its early stages of implementation in this domain, it is poised to change the manner in which energy is produced, transmitted, and used.

4) Internet of Things (IoT)

From smart homes and grids to smart drilling, IoT is clearly making its presence felt in the energy domain. 

IoT is improving the efficiency of the power grids by gathering data from the sensors that can be used to draw insights and make informed decisions on optimizing power generation and usage. 

For instance, drilling projects in the oil and gas depend on accurate designs, analysis, equipment selection and implementation for desirable outcomes. With the help of IoT, smart drilling is expected to change the manner in which oil and gas firms carry out their operations. 

Similarly, the smart oil field technology is ready to disrupt the energy domain, thereby improving productivity and providing critical real-time data without any downtime.

5) Blockchain

Since power businesses are flooded with data, it can be challenging for them to control and authenticate information pertaining to the energy transactions. Blockchain can help them reduce the risk of frauds, errors, and invalid transactions, making the process secure and efficient. 

The blockchain technology has huge scope in distributed energy trading. The technology offers a secured, transparent, and fully-controlled energy monitoring and trading platform and connects various parties on distributed common ledgers. The technology also captures information on the identities, contracts, pricing, transactions, and expenses are stored on the system.

Moreover, blockchain can make smart meters more efficient by offering accurate data to the energy supplier, requiring least interface between the supplier and the consumer and reducing the need for middlemen. Since each transaction is recorded, this technology wipes out the risk of any errors or manipulation.

Thus, blockchain can ensure digitization, deregulation, decentralization, distribution, and democratization in the power domain. 

6) Immersive Technologies (Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality)

The power domain is perfectly suited for immersive technologies as they reduce the operational costs, improve workplace safety and quality of training, and facilitate accurate decision making. 

For instance, workplace safety is a major priority for energy businesses. AR/VR headsets and devices can help identify hazards, accelerate equipment maintenance, reduce human error, and improve operational efficiency. 

In fact, geospatial technology uses immersive technologies to create a virtual training environment for employees, offering them in-depth information. 

This technology is particularly useful in power plants where heavy industrial lifting equipment like generators, turbines, and solar panels need to installed, repaired, and maintained. AR and VR place workers in real-life scenarios and offer live data and insights, thereby helping them operate in a safe environment.

Cutting-edge technology is radically reshaping the power segment, enabling utilities to smartly generate energy and boost their efficiency. In the coming years, the need to reduce the carbon emissions, the demand for cost-effective energy, and the rise of renewable energy will further encourage utilities to employ the technological breakthroughs discussed in this post. 

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