IoT Energy Management for the Future
The use of solar power on a large-scale basis has been taking place for decades, but it wasn’t until recent years, that the energy companies have researched what they can do with all the data from the solar power generation. What researchers have discovered is that solar can be exponentially more powerful, efficient, and cost effective with the use of IoT energy management.
Unconventional energy sources are all around, but because the amounts of energy they produce are minimal, they have been largely ignored. Radio signals from cell towers and WiFi routers, the vibrations from vehicles on the road, indoor and outdoor light, and even body heat produce enough energy to power low consumption electronics. The solar industry has been looking for ways to harness that energy. It may have found the solution in IoT energy. With IoT energy management, the industry now has the means to exploit energy that has largely been ignored, and possibly increase solar’s capacity by as much as 50 percent. Researchers predict that by 2022, solar IoT will be the reliable source of solar energy for which society has been looking.
What is IoT
IoT is an acronym for “Internet of Things.” IoT is a system of interconnected computing devices and digital machines, animals, people or objects that are assigned unique identifiers (UIDs) and given the ability to transfer data over a network without necessitating human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.
A “thing” in the internet of things can be anything that inherently has or that has been implanted with some sort of “tracking” device. For instance, an animal that is implanted with a microchip, a person who has a heart monitor or an automobile that has sensors that alert the driver when the door is ajar are all things that can be assigned a UID and monitored for data. Businesses in general are beginning to use IoT to better understand customers wants and needs and to improve the overall customer experience. The solar industry in particular, however, has recognized the cost-saving potential for IoT, as well as what it means for making solar power much more efficient. That being said, data is the heart of IoT. The Cloud, analytics, and machine learning gather and crunch data to which humans would otherwise not have access. These machines then come up with solutions that, again, humans would be unable to devise on their own. One such solution is solar IoT.
Where Does the Data Come From for Solar IoT
With the mass amounts of interconnected devices modern society relies on, data literally comes from all around. In fact, a recent report showed that in 2016, the IoT system utilized approximately 6.5 billion devices, but by 2020, that number is expected to grow to more than 20 billion. Devices reports refer to are in your kitchen, your bedroom, your bathroom and your office. They are out on the road and in your backyard. In fact, the device on which you’re reading this is a data source. Today, people help produce IoT data simply by living. Below is an example of how the average person contributes to big data on a daily basis:
- Wake up to coffee that was programmed via a smartphone to brew at 6:00 a.m.
- Stream music to speakers while showering.
- Start the car remotely so that it can warm up before driving to work.
- Refer to GPS to get live traffic updates.
- Drive through a toll-way without stopping thanks to a smart scan.
- Arrive at work to start a full day during which a series of interconnected devices will be used to perform job functions.
- Order takeout via an online app before leaving for work so it’s ready to pick up on the way home.
All of these interactions produce amounts of data that are literally unmanageable by humans. IoT data is measured in zettabytes, which is equivalent to one trillion gigabytes of data. Researches estimate that by 2019, the number of zettabytes produced by IoT will exceed 500, a number that is only expected to grow year after year.
How Do Solar and IoT Work Together
So, now you know what IoT is and how it works, but what does all this information mean for solar IoT? It means more efficient and cost-effective means for harnessing power and managing grids.
Though solar is hands-down the best renewable energy source available, it is not with its drawbacks. Solar power is difficult to manage, as all aspects of it — from the cellular modules to the web platforms — need to be integrated properly and contain no breaks in the connectivity. Even when an entire system is fully integrated, it may still fail to operate at full capacity. This is because all sources of renewable energy such as wind, solar and biomass experience fluctuations in output in response to changes in the weather. This makes it difficult for energy companies to deliver the energy they promise consumers on a consistent basis.
Moreover, because solar grids are widespread and complex, they pose a logistical nightmare to technicians and the companies for which they work. More complex grids also pose a security issue, as it’s difficult to secure something that has so many working components. For these reasons, energy companies are hesitant to offer solar power on a widescale basis.
Benefits of IoT
With the integration of IoT, companies can resolve these issues with little effort or cost. IoT compensates for fluctuations in energy output by reading data in real time and adapting accordingly. As a result, energy companies can ensure that their grids deliver sufficient energy and maintain load balance at all times, no matter what type of weather Mother Nature may through a grid’s way. Moreover, IoT can help identify issues and point technicians to the precise location of an issue, which means fixes can be made almost as soon as the problem arises. IoT energy management can also prevent costly security breaches by alerting companies when an unknown user pops onto the system, or when unusual behavior is detected.
Solar IoT is the future of solar power. With the integration of Internet of Things, solar is more easily managed, more secure, and overall more efficient.