IoT, the new ally of renewable energies?

February 21, 2019

Since its arrival, IoT has been pushing society towards a future in which most devices will be connected. Climate change and pollution levels also lead us to a future of greater care for the planet, and even to reverse, to the extent that we can, the damage caused during so many years of emissions.

Has the time come to unify both impulses to conquer a more technological future, nourished by clean energies?

Although, nowadays, in Spain the photovoltaic or wind installations are more extended in the industrial or agricultural sector, the use of energy self-consumption in households will be generalized in the foreseeable future.

The main disadvantage of renewable energies is that they are very changeable, since they depend on a large extent on environmental factors. This variability makes energy distribution difficult: when too much energy is generated, it is not possible to store it completely and a large part of it is wasted and when energy is scarce it is necessary to have alternative sources of fuel. The perfect system would require a greater capacity of storage for energy in the moments of maximum generation. This is where IoT can help by solving these problems thanks to the monitoring of systems and acting remotely.

Foreseeing that clean energies will be here to stay, IoT technology is already working to enter this sector. Therefore, it tries to promote energies, such as solar and wind energy, and its management in order to curb issues such as climate change.

IoT tries to promote energies, such as solar and wind energy

IoT is especially good at achieving systems located in distant places communicate with each other and interact as if they were a unit. In this sense, IoT allows controlling the network of storage systems in a centralized manner, as a solution to the supply imbalance that generates the variability of energy storage.

Thus, each solar panel or wind turbine can be monitored and controlled remotely through sensors, thus allowing greater savings in consumption, in addition to a prediction of machinery repairs that are necessary, to avoid energy waste.

In the residential part, the application of this mode of self-consumption in smart buildings will undoubtedly achieve greater efficiency and savings. The lighting and the temperature in the houses can be controlled through the IoT technology depending on the stored energy. For example, artificial light will adapt to the level of illumination detected by the sensors, switching on only when necessary. In the same way, the heating will be regulated automatically to provide only the energy that is needed to reach the ideal temperature.

In Hawaii we found a good example of an IoT solution applied to renewable energies, in the project carried out by Steffes Corp. The company has set up a system that manages hot water heaters distributed around 500 homes. The connectivity allows, in this case, to adjust the supply to the demand, so that they adjust as much as possible and there is no waste of energy.

Florida Power and Light has also opted for IoT for renewable energy, creating smart energy meters for solar panels that collect information through sensors and, through networks, manage consumption and provide customers with information on this in time real. The implementation of this technology generated a saving of 3.4 million dollars and a reliability of 99%. A very beneficial result for the company and for the customers, but, above all, for the environment. Another success story of Smart Metering is the installation, by Telefónica, of a network of smart meters to measure and manage in real time the energy consumption of household appliances in the United Kingdom.

IoT is a great ally of renewable energies

Cases such as Steffes Corp, Florida Power and Light or Telefónica demonstrate the potential Internet of Things has to help achieve more sustainable energy management. The application of this technology will be fundamental for the development and consolidation of renewable energies and, therefore, for the fight against pollution and climate change.

With all that has been shown, we can clearly confirm that IoT is a great ally of renewable energies.