- Renewable Energy Potential
- IoT and Renewable Energy
- Sample Practical Digitalization in Firms
Digitalization and technology are inseparable. As a result, today we refer to it as Ener-tech in the renewable energy industry. More than a decade ago, KP (the Kenyan hydro-electric power producer and supplier: Kenya Power ) sent agents with petrol motor cycles to read mechanical meters, taking electricity consumption data while disconnecting defaulters from the grid. The adoption of digital meters changed everything. Today, there aren’t any meter readers.
Today, Kenyans prepay for electricity consumption. You simply buy electric tokens via mobile money, majorly M-Pesa and upload the info on your digital meter. It takes to get back power. When you reach your tokens limit, you simply cease to access the power grid automatically.
The impact that digitalization was huge both economically and environmentally. The Kenyan parastatal realized significant savings since there was no longer need for meter reading escapades. There has also been reduced carbon emissions as a result. Organizations in renewable energy are now employing innovative solutions to better efficiency and optimize portfolios derived from advanced asset management.
Magnifying Renewable Energy Potential
Digital technology has enabled automation in places of work in the industry. Today, wind and photovoltaic farms are managed remotely. All this happens at the control center. Any mishaps in the system is automatically realized by computer systems which raises the red flag. So, whether there is a need for repair, maintenance or just random checks, the system informs the engineers.
In addition, it is now possible to monitor and get real-time data from plants generating renewable energy. Plant owners and Engineers can now collect data on daily energy production and map it against climatic or seasonal changes or natural environmental happenings. This data has enabled better decision making in the industry.
How we relate with customers in the industry has also changed. Two decades ago, one had to go to make payment for power physically in the providers office. If it was during the end of the month, customers experienced long queues and lost a lot of productive time. Today, customers make payments on their mobile phones. If any issue arises, customers simply raise them via social media accounts such as twitter.
The dynamic line rating (DLR) is another positive consequence. Overhead cables experience varying thermal capacities given the rapidly varying weather conditions. It is important to monitor these conditions. Through real time monitoring, DLR help optimize and reduce power lines congestions. The reduction of costs due to increased efficiencies makes it cost efficient to generate and distribute power. It is AI and IoT tech that enables DLR.
For maximum capacity increase, DLR is enabling enhancements of +40% and 100% compared to static line rating. In Germany, DLR is used on numerous heavy loaded overhead lines (OHL). In Belgium and France, the sensors measure real time sag and a four-hour forecast model developed.
IoT and Renewable Energy
Top management today employ data analysis in decision making. The same applies to the renewable energy sector. Have you ever wondered how they acquire the data? The Internet of Things (IoT) revolutionized data collection. Today if you install a solar PV module, the system is able to collect information based on your usage and inform the manufacturer on how to better improve the module. This is of course with the consent of the consumer.
Data analytics is also helpful in analysis of risks in investment portfolios in the industry. Investors (banks, funds, etc.) are as a result able to make more sound investments. New private investors are also joining the renewable market attracted by the prospects and rapid growth of the sector. Standardized asset management across the globe is an enabler of profit and portfolio maximization.
Furthermore, IoT infrastructure is making renewable energy more efficient. Its users simply integrate their water harvesters, solar panels, smart roofs etc. on one system. They control the working of the machines via their computers at the comfort of their homes. Smart bulbs switch themselves off during the day and are on during the night without the user’s intervention.
With IoT came Big Data. To process huge amounts of data, Artificial Intelligence was born. Artificial Intelligence has automated data analysis, projects modelling, improved learning and decision making. Digital technologies such as Blockchain emerged to safe guard the data while automating contract executions via “smart contracts”. Here are a few practical examples:
Digitalization at Wetility
Wetility is a South African solar technology firm that focuses on roof top solar under one Megawatt. To them, being part of the customer’s journey is vital. Several mechanisms have been put in place in order to ensure customer experience is interesting. An example is the We-X. We-X is an easy to use digital platform that smartly enables you to stay connected with remote monitoring and instant alerts.
We-X feeds information to consumers automatically concerning daily analytics of savings and consumption, essential weather updates together with tailored switching schedules, 24/7 monitoring of your PACE and ongoing service support, a comprehensive cost saving analysis plus connection to a Wetility Customer Relationship Manager. For business clients, there’s a tax rebate. This is all but an icing in the cake on customer experience at Wetility.
Digitalization at SAPVIA
SAPVIA facilitates over 400 companies in south Africa on policy advocation and government lobbing in the renewable energy sector. With its training partners, they provide training on solar PV modules. The digitalized solar training trains on solar mounting, wiring and full stack service technician. Over 800 young South Africans have been trained on how to do solar PV installations.
IRENA, 2020a suggests the need to increase the uptake of renewable portion generation to 86% by 2050. Although currently we are at 26.2% globally, we see a promising future. All this optimism derived from big data analytics, renewable energy market trends and universal efforts to curb pollution, climate change and environmental degradation. Digital technology is an important enabler of renewables. It has significantly boosted endorsements and uptake of renewable energy technologies by making them more efficient.
Disruption is arguably a natural product of market economies. It is the liability of the incumbent (fossil fuels). Renewable energy is on the right track in the competitive life cycle. To continue winning the green war, more investors need to come on board. This industry is promising for first movers, those engaged in exploration other than exploitation.
Brian Kolek – is an economist, data analyst and an aspiring programmer with interests in the Renewable energy sector, Information Technology and Innovation. He possesses certifications for data analysis and data driven decision making from reputable organizations such as IBM and PWC