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How will IoT impact the Utilities Industry?

Posted by: Charis Fisher 28 Oct 16  | Energy |  Engineering |  Sustainability

Now is a critical time for utility businesses.

How energy companies deal with the growth in IoT innovation within the utilities sector over the next few years will hugely impact their future success. Business Insider predicts a boom in smart meters from 450 million in 2015 to 930 million by 2020.

The adoption of IoT devices such as smart meters and grid sensors will certainly help utility firms meet the increasing global demand for energy (expected to rise by 37% by 2040 according to the International Energy Agency). These smart energy devices will also bring with them many other benefits for both consumers and companies.

How will IoT benefit utility firms?

The arrival of the smart grid has sparked a big data revolution for the utilities market. Smart meters can track energy used much more precisely, taking up to an astounding 17,520 readings per year. Not only will energy companies have access to more data but they will be able to use it to their advantage.

With a more accurate picture of how much energy consumers are using, utility firms will be able to make significant savings. In fact, if all utility companies switch to smart meters, they could save an impressive $157 billion by 2035.

Thanks to new flexible energy pricing initiatives, energy providers will be able to charge more for energy consumed at peak times, such as morning tea breaks, enabling them to make a sizeable profit once IoT in utilities becomes more widespread.

Will Consumers Save or Suffer?

Utility companies will be able to use the data from IoT devices to learn more about what their consumers want and need from an energy service. From a customer service perspective, this is an extremely positive innovation. If your energy company knows when your team is likely to take a coffee break or when you’ll be working at your desk, they can increase the amount of hot water and heating they supply to accommodate these behavioural patterns.

According to British Gas, consumers who trialled their flexible ‘time of use’ smart meter tariffs were able to save £60 per year on average, so the financial benefits of energy-efficient IoT aren’t exclusive to utility brands!

Is there a Downside to IoT Adoption?

One challenge for the utilities sector will be implementing all this shiny new technology. In a recent interview with Computer Weekly, Smart Energy Specialist Susan Furnell raised the point that there will be financial limitations for such wide-scale IoT innovation – consumers may not be prepared to bear the costs of energy-efficient technology.

Smart devices can be expensive and utility firms will need to develop a solid strategy to decrease the cost to the consumer. In the Netherlands, Energy Provider Eneco has had success with cost reduction, offering a 100% subsidised smart thermostat to its customers.

What does the Future hold for IoT in Utilities?

As utilities takes the leap into smart technology, demand will soar for new skills the industry previously had little need for.

From data specialists to IoT solutions architects, anyone looking to upskill and pursue a career in smart energy should consider getting experience in the following areas:

  • M2M
  • IoT
  • Smart Energy Profile (SEP)
  • SIM Management
  • Cloud infrastructures
  • Software development

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IoT will have a positive impact on the Utilities sector?  Tweet us and tell us your opinion


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