The IoT Effect On Energy

Jamie Daubenspeck

The fast pace of change in the energy industry is poised to get even faster as the Internet of Things (IoT) phenomenon takes hold. Utilities are serving up a veritable case study on IoT execution, leveraging sensors and data to fuel the expansion of smarter grids that will drive efficient energy use, enable real-time billing information, and create efficiencies around meter reading and data exchange. Energy consumers are leveraging big data and the IoT to refine their understanding and control of energy consumption and spending. As the interconnectivity of building devices takes hold, energy meters are playing a starring role in the IoT use case.

The proliferation of the IoT, however, is far from industry-specific. In retail, merchants are leveraging the concept to connect data points from disparate channels and devices—including the point of sale, consumers’ mobile devices, and e-commerce engines to create a holistic view of inventory availability, customers, and their purchase histories. In health care, the IoT is driving the seamless interconnectivity of patient data among enterprise computing platforms, once disparate healthcare practitioners, and even in-home medical devices.

Back here in the energy industry, utilities are demonstrating the IoT by leveraging sensors and data to fuel the expansion of smarter grids that drive efficient energy use, enable real-time billing information, and create efficiencies around meter reading and data exchange. Internally, they’re using IoT technology to monitor equipment—from traditional generation technologies to wind turbines and solar arrays—for performance analysis and predictive maintenance. Energy consumers are leveraging big data and the IoT to refine their understanding and control of energy consumption and spending, as well as to monitor the performance of their own energy consuming infrastructure at the building and equipment level. According to our 2016 Energy and Sustainability Predictions: Findings from Leading Professionals report, the infrastructure that enables IoT in commercial energy management applications is growing. A full third of the more than 700 corporate sustainability, facility and finance professionals we surveyed said they have meters, EMS, BMS, or other data collection/monitoring devices installed at a majority of their sites. That’s up from 29 percent in 2014, and another 20 percent said they have meter data gathering technology in pilot.

As the interconnectivity of building devices takes hold, energy meters are a key component of the IoT use case. The energy industry’s IoT leadership will only expand, according to BI Intelligence.

  • BI Intelligence forecast the smart meter installed base at 454 million in 2015 and predicts it will more than double by 2020, making it a leading IoT device.
  • The global cost of installing these smart meters, it says, will be over $100 billion, with the financial benefits reaching nearly $160 billion.

This proliferation of smart meters will cause the adoption of IoT analytics applications to surge, as the meters are only as valuable as what you do with the data they gather. As for the value of that data, we’re just beginning to scratch the surface. It’s teaching us about consumption and revealing opportunities to reduce it, informing proactive approaches to maintenance, enabling quick reaction to anomalies, creating visibility into energy demand and expense, and instructing opportunities to take advantage of new and emerging energy resources. As this value is discovered, we’ll see the advance of IoT analytics applications that deliver equipment and site-level consumption and performance data in specific business contexts for specific business decision makers.

According to our 2016 Energy and Sustainability Predictions report, the pursuit of this data is quickly moving from aspirational to operational. The metering infrastructure is falling into place, and the application of the data it collects is following suit.

For more information on energy market expectations among U.S. businesses—and the resulting energy and sustainability measures being implemented by more than 700 energy, sustainability, facility and finance professionals—download our 2016 Energy and Sustainability Predictions report.

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