In recent years, new technologies have modernized the electrical sector and made electrical grids more efficient and intelligent. This intelligence is based on a stronger connection between equipment, people and the electrical grid, generating abundant data, which allow the creation of more precise and effective systems.
As result, a new range of services and applications have been generated, which create new opportunities for income and drive new business models.
These new opportunities are particularly related to integration of the system to renewable energy networks, such as photovoltaic energy, wind power, and batteries that can store the energy generated. Continue reading to learn more about this theme.
Technologies and new business models in the electrical sector
The electrical sector is undergoing a period of changes in relation to business models. This is directly related to new forms of communication between consumers and those who provide electricity.
Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Blockchain allow conducting advanced analyses of large volumes of data collected from intelligent meters. This data will serve as a base for decision making and will allow these decisions to be executed more quickly, given that the entire system is integrated.
Internet of Things (IoT)
A few innovations stand out in this situation. The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of them. By creating a vast network that connects meters and sensors to all kinds of devices –– mobile or not –– this technology offers benefits to both consumers and companies in the electrical sector.
The IoT helps consumers generate their own use of energy more efficiently, which reduces costs. The idea is that clients should be informed about how much they spend on energy in a given period and can program appliances –– particularly those with high consumption such as air conditioning and electrical showers –– to automatically turn on and off.
Companies can also benefit from connectivity, obtaining real time data from the entire grid. This allows quicker and more precise responses to meet demand, control waste and reduce the chance of equipment failure.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial Intelligence is another technology essential to digitalization. While the Internet of Things is leading to an explosion in the quantity of data generated and analyzed, AI and its related fields, like Machine Learning and Deep Learning, facilitate access to information about the electrical grid, which opens path for the development of forecasting tools.
Machine learning and neural networks can recognize patterns and generate forecasts, to steer actions to meet demand and administer energy from renewable sources. The result is greater competitiveness of these forms of energy.
The creation of smart grids is another natural step towards digitalization of the electrical sector. Smart grids allow decentralizing the energy market, reflecting the interactions of market agents.
See: How digitalized data from infrastructure can help create intelligent urban services
Thus, a diversified grid is created with lower capacity, its own intelligent monitoring units and potential to generate demand and provide electricity in real time.
Using sensors and data analysis, the transmission and distribution networks will be useful for communicating and administrating power and optimizing its life cycle.
This will allow the purchase and sale of energy among consumers, breaking with the existing model, in which large companies control energy production.
In this way, consumers can sell the surplus energy generated by their own solar panels or wind turbines, while those who need can purchase this energy, with the certainty that it comes from renewable sources.
This is made possible by another technology with great potential for digitalization of the electrical sector: the blockchain. This is a decentralized data base that can enable, administer, track and verify thousands of transactions.
One example of the use of the blockchain is found in Norway in a private blockchain system managed by the Vattenfall company, in which commercial and residential consumers can sell energy from their solar panels and batteries.
Digitalization and the future of energy
The digitalization and development of the electrical sector is essential so that electrical systems can advance towards a more efficient, accessible, sustainable and safe future.
It is a mistake to believe that digitalization of the electrical sector will only benefit countries with well-developed infrastructure. This is a step of extreme importance for taking energy to poorly served locations, such as countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
The adoption of these technologies and the creation of new business models is also vital from the perspective of sustainability. As we saw, this movement provides consumers better opportunities to acquire and generate green energy –– which leaves us closer to international climate goals.
The collection, storage and analysis of data are key to the future of the electrical sector in Brazil and throughout the world.
The overwhelming majority of the Brazilian population lives in urban areas, which presents great challenges to the generation and distribution of electrical energy in the country, especially in terms of increasing demand in large cities.