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How big data is helping energy management

Driven by data, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) gives businesses a golden opportunity to manage their energy use and reduce both their costs and carbon footprint.

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Smart grids, driven by intelligent information and technology, optimise the generation, distribution and consumption of electricity. As a result, they’re now giving customers more control over their energy use.

Previously, users probably received a monthly or quarterly bill detailing their consumption. Now, data-driven grids can notify them about their usage as and when they need it. Since the UK electricity market working on a half-hourly basis, businesses have the opportunity to more efficiently manage their energy use. And they won’t be alone; more than 200 million intelligent meters should be transmitting data across the EU by 2022.

Devices such as smart thermostats – including Nest, owned by Google – allow users to monitor energy consumption and adjust their controls accordingly. However, this desire to take control of energy consumption hasn’t yet gained momentum in the workplace. This is a little surprising when you consider that businesses are, arguably, responsible for 18% of the UK’s carbon emissions.

So, increasing energy efficiency among businesses is key to meeting the country’s climate change targets, as well as reducing companies’ fixed cost overheads.

In the past, simply getting hold of accurate data about real-time energy usage was a challenge – so taking action to change it was even harder. However, the so-called ‘Industrial Internet of Things’ (IIOT) now gives businesses the opportunity to bring information and operations technologies together, to provide real-time information on asset performance. These businesses can analyse then act upon the data instantaneously, enabling them to quickly and more proactively manage their energy consumption.

For example, a horticultural company with a network of remote sensors may see that ambient temperatures inside their greenhouses are beginning to rise. With old ‘analogue’ technology, the thermostat would reach a critically high level before triggering the use of more energy to drive the air conditioning until the room cooled. Now, the company can analyse the temperature data in real-time and use the data to predict when they need to take action – earlier than in the non-digital scenario. The system will then rely on the IIOT to automatically open cooling vents – requiring almost no energy and costing almost nothing to run. What’s more, the company will be helping to reduce carbon emissions.

Ultimately, big data has the potential to help businesses become even more efficient. It can also help a company determine the perfect time to switch on or off demand side response, as the real-time market prices of electricity fluctuates.

According to some experts, marrying big data with analysis and more efficient energy solutions could even lead to ‘free’ energy in the future. These are certainly very interesting times.

To discover how Haven Power can help your business harness the power of big data, please get in touch by using our contact form.

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