IoT: Empowering Energy Management

The main motive behind the merger of IoT and energy management systems is to allow the linked entities to communicate with each other via a common information model. - S Prabhakar Karthikeyan, Kshitij Sharma

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IoT: Empowering Energy Management

With the evolution of Internet of Things (IoT), energy management has become smart and efficient. IoT has emerged as a promising platform for energy management. With ultrareliable operation and a wide range of applications, IoT can be considered as a pioneering approach in the field of energy management.

Figure 1: Some quick facts about IoT

IoT refers to a network of physical devices, appliances, automotive and many other items embedded with sensors, actuators, electronics, software and connectivity to communicate and exchange information for smart monitoring, positioning, recognition, tracing and various other activities. The physical objects are linked to each other through wired and wireless networks which often use same Internet Protocol (IP) that connects the Internet. The term IoT was coined by Kevin Ashton in a presentation to Proctor & Gamble, initially to promote Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology in 1999. Nowadays, market is flooded with IoT applications such as:

  • Smart energy meters
  • Home automation
  • Industrial asset monitoring
  • Wearable devices/fitness trackers
  • Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition System (SCADA)
  • Smart solar tracking
  • Power quality and monitoring.
Figure 2: Global IoT market share by sub-sectors

IoT market is estimated to grow from $157B in 2016 to $457B by 2020, achieving a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28.5per cent. The IoT market share worldwide is expected to be ruled by three sub-sectors; Smart Cities (26%), Industrial IoT (24%) and Connected Health (20%). The ranking is followed by Smart Homes (14%), Connected Cars (7%), Smart Utilities (4%) and Wearables (3%).

By the year 2020, IoT based devices are expected to reach 31 billion worldwide. The existing usage along with predicted data is given in figure 3.

Figure 3: Number of IoT connected devices worldwide from 2015 to 2020.

The fundamental characteristics of IoT are as follows:

  • Intelligence: The concept of IoT works with various algorithms, software and hardware that make the product smart. IoT enhances working of any device in an intelligent way which makes it desirable in tough situations. In the world of smart technologies, IoT acts as the best way to interact with devices by using graphical user interface and standard input methods.
  • Connectivity: Internet connectivity can be provided by an access point or within the device itself. The access point acts as collector of all the data and information from various sensors for a specific device which then communicates with the cloud to pass this information. It activates network accessibility, intelligent analysis and compatibility.
  • Sensing: The sensors monitor, track and measure the activity and then pass the information to the cloud storage. Sensors that can monitor physical fitness and health of a person or sensors that can monitor usage statistics of household appliances are some of the examples of useful sensors. The sensed data is just an analog input from the physical world which can be interpreted for further use.
  • Expressing: This characteristic enables interaction of devices with physical world. Whether it is smart agriculture technology or smart home technology, expressing enables interaction of device with the real world. It allows the device to directly communicate with people and the environment.
  • Energy: Energy is essential component for functioning of any system. IoT devices operate in unforgiving environment and harsh surroundings like deep mines and outer space. Since, the surrounding conditions can be tough for the device, it is important to make them energy efficient, reliable and quality product.
  • Safety and security: Since, safety is the number-one priority in the field of technology. Modern high-end technologies are more prone to safety and security threats. Thus, it is necessary to provide a safe and secure way of transmission of data among the devices. Apart from data security, safety of physical well-being is also a major concern. However, various features such as secure booting, access control, device authentication and firewalling and IPS (Intrusion prevention system) have been introduced in this field.
Figure 4: Characteristics of IoT

Energy Management Practices

One of the major issues in front of researchers, scientists and key-people in factories is to develop an energy efficient system which is non-polluting and more reliable as compared to traditional systems. The growing demand of energy-led several companies such as Siemens, Schneider, General Electric, Mitsubishi, ReMake Electric, Socomec, Energy Metering Technology Ltd and Wi-Lem to bring innovation in the field of IoT. Figure 5 depicts a general system architecture using the concept of IoT in energy monitoring.

The bottom layer of the architecture consists of sensors and smart meters. These devices may be connected through wireless or wired network. Energy meters provide a high level of features such as smart monitoring and analysis energy consumption depending on several parameters such as power factor, power consumption, max/min peak voltage, and power consumption. Meters can be used with various monitoring targets including single components, single machines or even whole production line.

The middle layer is responsible for transmission of acquired data to the gateway and then to a local computer or to the Internet by means of standard communication protocols such as Wireless Hart or ZigBee wireless technology. Sensors can be placed in a much flexible way at nearby spots or even at remote locations.

As shown in Figure 5, data is transferred into EEM (Enterprise Energy Management) software for detailed analysis or in other enterprise systems including Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), Building Management Systems (BMS) or Advanced Production and Scheduling systems (APS). The data acquired from smart energy meters can be integrated with SCADA.

Figure 5: General IoT system architecture for energy monitoring

There are numerous applications of IoT in the field of energy management. Some of them are discussed below:

Smart Grid: IoT provides the system act on energy and power-related data in a pre-defined way with the aim to improve overall efficiency of the system. Improvised monitoring and management of energy consumption leads to sustainability of the production and efficient distribution of electricity. High-end techniques such as data mining can be taken into account to analyse acquired energy data to get the detailed information about energy wastage.

Wind Turbine/Power House: Energy flow from wind turbines and power house can be monitored and analysed in an efficient and reliable way by using concept of IoT. Energy consumption pattern of consumer can be analysed by smart energy meters.

Power Supply Controller: AC-DC power supplies can be regulated by controller which in turn improves efficiency by reducing energy wastage for power supplies associated to telecommunication, computers and consumer electronics applications.

Photovoltaic Installations: Performance of solar photovoltaic plants can be monitored and optimised using IoT. Majority of the solar photovoltaic plants are installed at remote locations. This creates a need of monitoring of these set-ups at dedicated desired locations using web-based interface.

The concept of IoT has been merged with Smart Grid (SG) as it enables systems to act on the energy and information which is related to power in an innovative way with the aim to improve the overall efficiency, economics, reliability and sustainability of the production and distribution of the electricity. Electric utilities can not only manage distribution automation devices such as transformers and reclosers but also, collect data from end-user connections using advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) devices linked to the Internet.

The emerging technologies IoT is an essential aspect for various types of industries. Efficient management of energy and intelligent consumption by appliances is the main motive behind implementation of this technology. However, some factors lead to inefficient operation such as illicit consumption, transmission and distribution losses, faulty wiring, harmonic problems and untargeted supply. More than 35 per cent of the power produced is wasted because of these undesired factors. In modern era power sector, rising electricity prices, increasing environmental concerns, and changing choices of consumers are the key reasons for advancement in technology in energy sector. The Internet of Things technology is emerging as a promising platform for the improvement in energy sector. The credit goes to smart sensors and smart energy meters at industrial level.

Conclusion

The combined approach by sensing and actuation system, linked via Internet is expected to optimise the overall energy consumption. The main motive behind the merger of IoT and energy management systems is to allow the linked entities to communicate with each other via a common information model. IoT devices are expected to fuse with various devices such as bulbs, switches, television, power outlets, etc. which consume energy. This will enable utility supply company to generate power more efficiently and balance their energy usage. The users would be able to remotely control to the devices, centrally manage various devices via a cloud-based interface, and advanced functioning such as scheduling the device.


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