It’s still early days but the future of infrastructure and better energy consumption management looks bright
Energy applications and devices were amongst the first to start the smart home technology trend a couple of years ago with devices like Nest, Hive and Tado, and more recently, with products like sense.
Philips Hue came in early as well to control your lights, but the trend is now moving towards one-size-fits-all voice-controllable devices like Amazon Echo or Google’s Home allowing multi-command functions in the house. It’ll take only a couple more months before Apple will announce its version to become the ultimate home-appliance manager of our homes in the future.
Furthermore, in many cities, new equipment, appliances, and software are available that use emerging smart grid technologies to save energy, seek out the lowest rates, and contribute to the smooth and efficient functioning of our electric grid.
On the industrial side of things, there are many opportunities open in this area where manufacturing plants and office buildings are the next battle ground for IoT to install hard and software connected to the cloud to better manage our energy consumption via data-controls and smart meter management. Innovative, cost-effective, and clean decentralised hybrid energy solutions that boost efficiency, safeguard energy supplies and reduces costs is the way to go in this area.
Despite it being a well-established area (connected devices in smart buildings represent approximately one third of global connected devices), it is a market estimated to grow from $5.73 Billion in 2016 to $24.73 Billion by 2021. Better energy efficiency, reduced operating costs, new leasing models, increased productivity, and improved building security are just some of the benefits awaiting us.
A key element that allows all of the emerging smart grid technologies to function together is the interactive relationship between the grid operators, utilities, and the consumers.
Computerised controls in homes and appliances can be set up to respond to signals from energy providers to minimise energy use at times when the power grid is under stress from high demand, or even to shift some of the power use to times when power is available at a lower cost.
In The Edge building in Amsterdam, quoted as the “The Smartest Building in the World”, the building’s infrastructure is connected with some 28,000 sensors. The building knows where you live. It knows what car you drive. It knows who you’re meeting with today and how much sugar you take in your coffee. It’s quite possibly the smartest office space ever constructed.
Workspaces in the building are based on your schedule: sitting desk, standing desk, work booth, meeting room or a balcony seat. Wherever you go, the app knows your preferences for light and temperature, and it tweaks the environment accordingly. It’s about using information technology to shape both the way we work and the spaces in which we do it. It’s about resource efficiency in the traditional sense—the solar panels create more electricity than the building uses—but it’s also about the best use of the humans.
It’s like the Uber of buildings, we connect all functions in a building, we make them more efficient, and in the end we will actually need fewer buildings in the world, according Coen van Oostrom, chief executive officer of OVG Real Estate, the building’s developer.
From the mid-1990s renewable energy began to contribute to the electricity generated in the United Kingdom, adding to a small hydroelectricity generating capacity. The total of all renewable electricity sources provided for 14.9 per cent of the electricity generated in the United Kingdom in 2013, reaching 53.7 TWh of electricity generated. In the second quarter of 2015, renewable electricity penetration exceeded 25 per cent and coal generation for the first time.
Due to rising energy fossil prices and the price reduction in renewables technologies, in many decentralised energy applications renewable energy is nowadays already a cost competitive solution. Thus, with hybrid energy systems fuel and O&M costs can be reduced significantly resulting in attractive payback times for the investment in renewable energy and integration.
It’s still early days but the future of infrastructure and better energy consumption management looks bright as we can only save more energy we don’t really need. Onwards!
Rudy de Waele is an innovation strategist and change agent, keynote speaker, content curator and author. He assists global brands, startups, companies and organisations with cutting edge open innovation strategy using new methodologies to re-invent and transform business.
His unparalleled experience, knowledge and insight, propels leaders to stay ahead of the curve. Rudy specialises in giving technology trend forecasts, analysis and ideas exchange on how to thrive in the new economy and by facilitating Socratic Design workshops on how to create meaningful business.
He has helped diverse global brands such as BMW, IBM, Coca-Cola, Google, Intel, Louis Vuitton, PayPal, Samsung, Telefonica, Vodafone and World Bank.
Rudy is a graduate from Singularity University and he has developed more than 200 leading industry events across more than 50 cities globally. Rudy is an associate of The Futures Agency, a member of the IoT council, a think tank for the Internet of Things and Strategic Advisor and Ambassador to Smart Cities World.
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