Disruption at the Edge: IoT Transforming Energy Grids

Jan 17, 2018

Digital disruption is here to stay. Much like the electronic revolution that led to PCs, mobile phones and smart devices, energy grids are on the verge of a major change. Consider the network of power plants, utilities and power lines comprising energy grids, for a moment. What you effectively have is the largest machine in the world — one that is capable of delivering large amounts of data leading to transformational changes in the industry and our daily lives.

That’s why I’m always excited to see the innovations on display at DistribuTECH, the largest annual electric power transmission and energy distribution conference and exhibition. The event showcases the latest industry trends including scalable, flexible and secure end-to-end IoT architectural frameworks and products that help utilities monitor and measure energy flow and improve operational efficiency across the grid. Read on to see how Internet of Things (IoT) enables a more intelligent, reliable, and safe and secure grid while also lowering costs for utilities, smart cities and other grid stakeholders. The future of energy does indeed look bright.

 

Intel Sirius Pro drone

Drones for Utilities Inspecting and Mapping:

The energy industry has seen a surge in the use of drones for remote grid observations. Two of my favorite examples are the Intel Falcon 8+ drone, an octocopter optimized for inspection, and the Intel Sirius Pro System (pictured above) that handles longer range mapping missions with its fixed wing design. Both take advantage of flight planning software to automate data collection missions and their data can be geotagged.

 

Energy transformers in the sunset

IoT-driven Energy Efficient Gateways:

The past few years have seen an increase in remote monitoring of voltage readings for analysis either at the gateway or at a remote site. Companies like Kalkitech offer IoT-enabled smart grid solutions that help energy utilities across the globe improve energy efficiency. That can include everything from advanced metering and distribution automation to wide area monitoring, substation automation and power plant automation.

 

A connect work in an industrial setting

Active Grid Demand and Response Management:

Solutions that enable real-time manage of smart meters, distributed generation, inverse power flows, distributed energy storage and energy grid operations from a central command center are on the rise, driven by industrial IoT architectures. One example making waves is Indra’s Active Grid solutions, which support dynamic operation of distribution grids right at the edge — where connected consumers and distributed energy resources cross paths, offering insights that can help achieve a more reliable and efficient grid.

 

Two people work at a wind farm.

Smart Energy Grids Networks:

Smart grid systems are merging with advanced metering infrastructures built on Wi-Fi based mesh networks — the self-contained wide-area networks that are also used for communicating information in disaster areas and extreme environments where standard Wi-Fi and mobile networks are unavailable. A pioneering solution by Delta Smart Grid Network Design (DSGN) uses a mesh network to deliver electrical distribution monitoring and interrogative analytics within a robust, secure cloud-based deployment scheme. Simultaneously, it provides Wi-Fi connectively, enabling true IoT-device integration.

 

Solar energy collectors.

Smart Solar Energy Solutions:

Intelligent gateways, paired with remote device management software, are offering real-time information displays including location, status of generated power (electrical stored power), and statistical data including temperature, moisture, carbon dioxide levels. New solutions showcase how solar energy can be converted, stored, monitored, and provide IoT insights into cost and peak time adjustments. Axiomtek’s smart energy solutions are helping transform the industry through a wide variety of end-to-end smart energy solutions that include gateway devices, embedded systems, pan PC and remote management software.

 

Recon Jet Pro glasses

Connected Industrial Energy Worker Solutions:

Connected workers are on the rise across industries and that includes utility workers. One solution offered by Rice Electronics and Arrow uses connected worker applications on smartphones to monitor IoT-connected gas sensors.

 

A picture of an energy efficient smart building.

Microgrid Site Controllers:

Microgrids consisting of solar, battery storage, generator and utility grid power all working in unison through a control system are on the rise. One example, by FieldSight control and monitoring software for microgrids, operates on the Dell Edge Gateway 5000, boosting microgrid efficiency enabling actionable insights thanks to IoT-driven technology.

This is a tremendously exciting time for the industry. Together, we have an opportunity for transformational improvements to our current grid-control paradigm. In order to meet the world’s growing energy needs, our utilities will require a fundamental change in how we control an ever more complex system. We look forward to continuing to work together to help the energy industry navigate the new technologies and diverse market sectors on the road ahead.

Stop by Intel booth 1601 at Distributech. For more on Intel energy solutions visit intel.com/energy. To stay informed about Intel IoT developments, subscribe to our RSS feed for email notifications of blog updates, or visit intel.com/IoTLinkedInFacebook and Twitter.

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