The energy industry was once described as the last analogue sector in a digital world. Data and the cloud have been embedded in retail, leisure and finance for years but why not energy? The energy industry collects large amounts of data on a continuous basis but used for very little, data flows are the backbone of what can be achieved by suppliers for consumers yet the insight into customer behaviour is poor, efficiency of the grid is lacklustre and innovation is stifled. Until now.
Take smart meters as an example, one million smart meters collecting data every 15 minutes for a year will create 2920 terabytes of information. Information on behaviours, demands and forecasting that could be better utilised. Innovation in the smart home sector has led to houses being better connected than ever before so what do we think are the possibilities of big data in energy:
Power generation and planning
Understanding the load on the grid in more depth will allow for more efficient use of the energy we produce and use. We could minimise the waste which will improve production costs and ultimately benefit not just the consumer and supplier but also the planet.
Solar, wind and even tidal current (discussed in our kite blog) can benefit from big data. Understanding weather patterns and the effect it has on certain pieces of equipment will create better profiles for use of renewable energy sources. If we can understand the most efficient location to put an underwater kite because we can analyse currents better then we will maximise the output of renewable energy creating a more sustainable future. Better understanding of weather will also benefit forecasting for suppliers giving customers a better deal.
Virtual Power Station
Creating a localised, digital location that incorporates many different storage devices together could make virtual power stations that could recycle unused energy back into the grid or local areas reducing demand and costs on the grid.
If a consumer can understand when they need energy the most and when it costs the grid the most (or them) would they think differently about it? With smart connected devices and smart meters coming into the home more and more it shouldn't be long until a customer can schedule individual appliances (depending on their efficiency) for certain times of day. Imagine a supplier being able to tell a large family that if they used their dishwasher at 3am then demand on the grid would be lower so wholesale costs would also be lower meaning they could save £x amount per year. The implications of this are big and big data is leading the charge.
There are many more ways that big data can help streamline energy management and create a better more sustainable future for the industry and that benefits all but these are just a few. ENSEK is built on data and is a high versatile scalable cloud SaaS business, we analyse big data and help suppliers understand their needs, as well as their customers, to a granular level.
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