The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change declared a “code red for humanity” in its most recent report. As the world looks to increase the usage of green energy sources, energy automation stands out as a viable option for industrial and consumer applications.
What is Energy Automation?
Energy automation is a combination of different technologies – including energy storage, renewable sources, and automation – with the common goals of making energy usage more intelligent and more efficient.
In industrial applications, sophisticated automation and analytic programs can manage a power grid made of a variety of energy sources. These programs, combined with technology such as AI, machine learning and IoT, also allow autonomous energy plants to save energy. The smart sensors monitor real-time performance while the AI allows the associated machines to adjust to most efficiently manage energy consumption.
In consumer applications, automation technology enables smart homes to gather data about energy output, storage and solar production to effectively disperse power throughout the home.
Challenges of Energy Automation
While energy automation is a viable way to help fight climate change, it does have its limitations.
Moving automation controls online opens the door to cyberattacks with detrimental results. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation has a critical infrastructure protection plan in place to maintain the security of automated systems, and compliance with this plan is critical in maintaining a secure energy sector.
Currently, the availability of renewable energy is dependent on environmental conditions, namely the amount of sun or wind at a given time. While a smart home may be able to run short-term on stored energy, factories and industrial applications would not be able to continue operations. However, reliability is improved when a variety of electricity sources are available to better balance the reliance on any single source. Hybrid microgrids are one such solution where traditional generators are combined with clean power and battery storage.
As smart homes become more common and renewable energy use increases in the consumer market, proponents of energy automation hope this impacts industrial adoption. However reliability, as described above, continues to be a valid concern for corporations world-wide. And the initial expense of transitioning to new energy sources is not without impact, either.
The Future of Energy Automation
As individuals and companies around the world commit to improve the human impact on climate change, energy automation will be at the forefront of conversation. While the initial challenges have caused reluctance in the industrial market, the long-term benefits of efficiency, global impact, cost savings – and even potential revenue generation through selling excess energy – should encourage faster implementation of green energy.
Sealevel’s team of engineering experts is uniquely qualified to design computing and I/O systems that support the variable conditions often inherent with energy applications. From industrial computers to support fracking operations to IIoT devices for managing solar networks, our solutions are improving efficiency across the energy industry.