IoT in the Energy Sector

Energy Sector IoT

IoT-enabled devices will significantly benefit utility agencies and energy consumers.

Concepts, such as on-demand DRE-supply, vehicle-to-grid technology, distributed private grid contribution and two-way power meters are all innovative solutions in the generation, transmission and consumption of energy that rely heavily on IoT technology.
The collective use of these (already proven to work) concepts will allow for a smart grid that is more accessible, sustainable, reliable and accessible.

Seamless alternation between energy sources

Removing fossil fuels from the equation is a major goal for energy companies. Currently, many generating stations are able to reduce their emissions by operating as a hybrid, combining energy from coal or gas with renewable sources like wind and solar.

IoT can provide a generating station insight into peak periods, which allows plant managers to better plan their alternation between both types of energy sources.

Allowing the DRE sector to thrive

IoT systems are a vital component for many new business models within the decentralized renewable energy (DRE) sector. Even small scale renewable energy solutions can now be commercialized. These systems provide an “only pay what you actually use” type of energy service.
Being able to predict peak demand periods thanks to IoT, these decentralized energy providers are also able to create flexible tariffs. This means that an energy provider may decrease or increase tariffs based on the impending demand, as predicted using information gathered by IoT systems.

Precise asset monitoring for power plant managers

IoT-enabled sensors can measure parameters that can be used to determine the overall health of different assets, most notably turbines, generators and transmission lines. These sensors may be used to measure tear, wear, temperature, humidity and other data that can be gathered with modern sensor technology.

Using this data, operation managers are able to precisely estimate time to failure, which can be used to plan maintenance of key infrastructure. This reduces unplanned downtime due to unscheduled maintenance, which can have significant economic impacts.

These sensors may also help to pinpoint safety issues, such as leakages before they become harmful.

Personal grid contribution

Regular private homes contributing to electricity generation is a much-discussed topic for many energy companies. A family home can sell off excess electricity generated by solar panels on the rooftop to the power grid of a power company. IoT is the crucial component needed to automate this process and make it truly viable.

One of the major challenges of connecting different homes with different production levels to the grid is the variation in voltages at different nodes during the transmission, which may cause grid congestion or power outages.

However, thanks to smart IoT integration, real-time data can be used to manage these issues and automatically adjust the grid to maintain a healthy supply and demand ratio.

Smarter individual energy consumption

IoT can help consumers save energy costs by providing them with insightful information that can be used to make smarter decisions about their power usage. For example, real-time data from smart meters can be sent to the consumer through a mobile application.

Consumers thus can see how much power has been consumed, whether this consumption meets their budget and how they can tune down their consumption accordingly. However, communication between the app and the IoT-devices may even go both ways. Instead of just receiving information to the app, the app can also be used to control the IoT-devices.

As a result, consumers can decide to turn off the power supply to specific appliances or areas of their home and even set conditions under which certain appliances should be powered off. As such, consumers become more conscious of their energy usage, which helps in reducing overall energy consumption and its associated cost.

Two-way smart meters to reduce downtime

New generations of smart meters are able to communicate back to the distribution station. The power meters in one’s home can send vital operation information, such as downtime notifications to the utility provider.
Utility agencies can use this data to troubleshoot and pinpoint the cause of a specific malfunction much quicker. These meters may also provide utility companies with real-time data, which can be used to efficiently adjust the power distribution across the grid during peak periods in various regions.

Vehicle to Grid

Many electric, smart (or even autonomous) vehicles already greatly benefit from IoT technology. While power outlets to charge electric cars are ever-increasing, few drivers would think about the possibility of letting electricity travel in the opposite direction.

Vehicle to Grid (V2G) is the concept of feeding a vehicle’s excess energy back to the grid. It is one example of an ancillary service, which are services provided by an electricity company beyond the usual transmission and generation of electricity.

Hitachi, Mitsubishi & ENGIE have recently conducted a pioneering project to demonstrate the potential of using BEVs (Battery electric vehicles) as energy storage for an office building.

Hitachi’s V2X charger is the first charger that can also discharge energy back into the grid. Hitachi and Mitsubishi, both believe that innovative incorporation of V2B (vehicle to building) charging stations will lead to smarter energy management systems for buildings.

How, exactly does this work?
By being connected to the buildings energy supply, the V2X charger will draw energy whenever the building generates more solar power than it actually needs. This energy can be discharged back from the car to the building when required. Thus the car battery acts as constant energy storage and also functions as an emergency power supply during power outages.


K. R. Ajao Ph.D., H. A. Ajimotokan, O. T. Popoola & H. F. Akande (2009) Electric Energy Supply in
Nigeria, Decentralized Energy Approach, Cogeneration & Distributed Generation Journal, 24:4, 34-
50, DOI: 10.1080/15453660909595149