With a growing population, it comes as no surprise that we’re consuming more and more energy every year. The International Energy Agency expects global energy demand to increase by 37% by 2040, which would put incredible strain on energy supplies. Springing from this growing demand comes a growing need to find ways to alleviate the pressure – in enters IoT.  

Inside the home  

Smart Meters

If you’re a homeowner or even just renting, you might be familiar with the rollout of smart meters. You’ve probably even been contacted by your energy supplier because they want to install one. A smart meter is a type of gas and electricity meter that can digitally send meter readings to your energy supplier (so you no longer have to fetch a ladder to reach those out-of-the-way meters.)  

Smart meters operate using a secure national communication network belonging to the DCC or Data Communication Company. This is how they wirelessly send energy usage to your energy company. By doing so, energy companies are able to save a huge amount of money by monitoring peak energy times and general usage.  Business Insider Intelligence expects that utility companies will save $157 billion by 2035 from their rollout of smart meters. 

There are a number of benefits to having a smart meter:  

  • More accurate bills.  
  • A better understanding of your usage as it is all displayed.  
  • Innovative energy tariffs 

In the UK, all households in England, Scotland and Wales must be offered a smart meter from their energy supplier by 2024.  

 

Water Sensors

Water sensors track a number of things; water quality, temperature, pressure, consumption making up just a few of the options. Water utility companies use these sensors to monitor customer consumption. They can also alert customers if they have been using more than a set average and track their usage from the previous months.  

The great things about water sensors is that they can also operate as water leak detectors, which is fantastic as leaky pipes are a nightmare. There are a number of different solutions available, from the Fibaro Flood Sensor to the iHome Wi-Fi Dual Leak Sensor. As you’ve probably guessed from the names, a large number of well-known companies are jumping on the water sensor bandwagon, and rightfully so.  

The benefits of installing a water leak detector:  

  • Improved safety. Being notified if there is a leak improves safety, as it lets you know.  
  • Water leaks can save you money as they mean that there can be a far faster response.   

 

 

Powering the home 

Oil and Gas

For oil and gas companies, the advantages lie in creating value through an integrated deployment strategy. According to the ‘Oil and Gas Wireless Sensor Networks – A Market Dynamics Report (6th edition)’, by 2023 global WSN revenues for oil and gas exploration, production and pipeline operation will reach $2.2 billion – a massive increase from the $480 million in 2017. The largest profit percentage of this will be formed by production, at 59%, which includes wellhead automation, asset and equipment monitoring, asset tracking and locating as well as safety and environmental applications.  

As oil is generally found in difficult terrain, being able to monitor and manage equipment remotely means that any issues can be spotted almost immediately, and countermeasures can be put in place. This means that spills and emergency shutdowns can occur at all hours. 

The upstream industry (the initial discovery and extraction of oil) loses billions of dollars every year due to non-productive time (NPT). By deploying IoT, real-time data can be used to predict breakdowns and schedule preventative maintenance; the placement wells and flow wells becomes a lot easier.  

According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), between January 2015 and January 2017, oil and gas extraction workers were involved in 602 incidents, 481 hospitalisations and 166 amputations. Remote monitoring will hopefully mean that individuals will no longer have to travel to sites without first knowing what and where the problem is. Most importantly, it will mean that workers will know if it is safe for them. 

Companies will be able to predict when and if equipment needs maintenance, from tracking spare parts on rigs to knowing whether workers are certified to be in certain areas, IoT is prepped to really move this industry into the 21st century.  

However, this doesn’t all come without a hitch, as with that much monitoring comes a huge amount of data. According to IoTforAll, utility companies can process up to 1.1 billion data points per day, with large refineries generating 1 terabyte of raw data per day. The problem comes from how to give this data meaning when their IoT equipment is operating remotely with a potentially limited network connectivity or alternatively, high bandwidth costs that prohibit sending smart data to the cloud.   

As the oil and gas industry is so segmented, IoT applications will allow it to create a framework that is easily monitored and seamlessly integrated. As one of the most asset-intensive industries, a digital transformation leads to a far more efficient process. After all, in a world that is looking to go greener, a process that is less wasteful is always going to be popular.