The above number was the global year-end population of 2018 and by the end of this year, this number will grow by 82 million! To suffice the electricity demands of this skyrocketing population, power generation companies and utilities are regularly optimizing their existing methodologies.
Enhancing the working methodologies and machineries increase the overall plant efficiency which in turn allows utilities to provide electricity to more people. SCADA systems and programmable logic controllers (PLCs) have for a long time enabled these companies to monitor the performance and condition of their power plantsâ€™ equipment and tools. However, SCADA systems are less interoperable and donâ€™t offer consumption pattern monitoring of electricity consumed by the end-users.
The advent of Internet of Things in the energy sector has resulted in the emergence of smart energy solutions. These solutions powered by breakthrough IoT sensors and telemetry capabilities offer great functionalities to the power industry in terms of consumption pattern monitoring, operational optimization, and asset performance management.
Smart Energy Solutions:
Smart energy solutions comprise of devices like smart meters and smart grids that are used to gather relevant data. This data constitutes parameters related to flow of electricity and can vary from the performance of equipment to energy utilized by the end consumers. By analyzing this information, an energy provider can make informed decisions to effectively manage power flow in all three verticals of power generation, transmission, and distribution.
Internet of Things plays a crucial role in maintaining the electricity flow in all these three stages. It is allowing the power companies to manage the supply of electricity at even peak hours and reduce its wastage. Let delve deep into the benefits IoT offer in all these stages.
A. Power Generation:
Equipment in power plants must be efficient in order to reduce electricity wastage. However, power plants suffer from high levels of unreliability and inefficiency due to:
â€˘ Use of aged and malfunctioning assets.
â€˘ Improper O&M (operations and maintenance) procedures.
â€˘ Incorrect use of historical data associated with the assets.
These aspects drastically affect the efficiency of equipment and machineries. Internet of Things offers cost-effective solutions to power generation companies by enhancing their O&M tasks, thus improving the lives of their assets. By constantly monitoring the working and performance of equipment, point of failure and required time of maintenance can be accurately estimated.
1) Uptime Monitoring:
Uptime monitoring refers to the time during which equipment or machinery is running. While the machine is operating, different parameters are measured to define its performance and condition. These parameters can be used to estimate the time of machine breakdown and even schedule condition, predictive, or risk-based maintenance tasks.
2) Downtime Monitoring:
The period of time in which a machine is under maintenance or simply not running is called its downtime. By using the historical data of the machine gathered through different embedded sensors, appropriate maintenance and repairs can be made to it in order to get it ready for operation.
By simultaneously monitoring the downtime and uptime of various equipment in a power plant, the availability of equipment can be determined. The standby machines can thus be used during peak hours to suffice the extra demand. Some other benefits of equipment availability monitoring are:
â€˘ Reduced maintenance costs.
â€˘ Improved reliability and efficiency of assets.
â€˘ Quick inspection and identification of sources of failure.
â€˘ Elimination of emergency repairs and unplanned downtime.
B. Power Transmission:
Power transmission systems go dull and their efficiency drops after a prolonged duration of usage. Moreover, these grids often operate along with inefficient power plants having low fuel efficiency and high emission rates that further decrease the efficiency of power transmission systems.
Nowadays, these traditional power grids have been replaced with upgraded IoT infused versions called smart grids. These grids offer quick remote control on various electricity transfer factors like frequency, voltage, ramp rate, etc. These grids offer a 2-way dialogue system that allows utilities and customers to interchange information and electricity almost instantly.
Some benefits that the smart grids offer to an advanced transmission system are:
1) Renewable energy management:
Energy generated from renewable resources is called variable power as it varies with change in environmental conditions. A smart transmission system can detect these variabilities and balance the power supply by extracting electricity from traditional power plants.
2) Reduce operational costs:
Smart grids with the help of distribution systems can measure electricity consumption in different localities and find the duration of peak power consumption. Based on this information, utilities can decide the best time to run â€śpeaking plantsâ€ť(plants used during peak hours) to manage power supply during peak hours. As this lowers the use of less inefficient peaking plants, the operational costs are also reduced.
3) Asset Management:
A transmission system consists of various substations, transformers, and transmission lines. These equipment and assets degrade and develop faults due to overloading and continuous operation. Different IoT sensors can be used to monitor various factors associated with the asset working to identify safety hazards and vulnerable components. This improves the maintenance tasks and improves the life of the transmission assets.
C. Power Distribution:
Internet of Things is furthermore enhancing the distribution services and customer experiences with the help of smart grids and smart meters. Smart meters are an application of internet of things that transmit electricity consumption data of a home to the utility provider. The data can also be accessed by the customer through a web application or even from television.
The smart meters have enabled the development of smart distribution systems offering different advantages in the field of:
1) Supply rerouting and restoring:
Due to sudden and unwanted environmental or overload conditions, transmission systems and equipment can get damaged, restricting the flow of electricity in certain areas. It can take an ample amount of time to fix the breakdown and reinstate the supply of electricity in the location. The combined usage of smart grids and smart meters can identify a separate path to supply electricity and assist utilities to reroute the supply to the locality suffering from blackout.
2) Energy Management Solutions for home:
Smart appliances at homes can share information with smart meters to store and analyze information associated with energy consumption. Smart meters transmit this data to a centralized platform that can be accessed even from a mere TV. This data can be used by the consumers to manage the electricity consumption at the home and thus decrease the electricity bills.
The Next Step to Fulfill Electricity Demands:
Smart energy solutions are empowering power generation, transmission, and distribution processes. The advent of IoT technology in the energy sector has enabled the development of more efficient and reliable systems that are reducing losses in the energy flow from power plants to the end consumers. This is allowing the utilities to increase the reach of their electricity network to more remote areas and preparing them to meet the requirements of the continuously soaring global population.