As data becomes more prevalent and accessible in 2024, energy management solutions will become more precise and amplify the benefits customers can derive from renewable energy, Matt Tormollen, CEO, POWWR, tells OGN
After a few false starts, energy companies are firmly looking to transition away from fossil fuels and adopt more sustainable forms of energy production in the future. So much so that it is predicted that renewables’ share of the power generation mix is set to rise to 35 per cent by 2025.
Whilst a major catalyst has been increased consumer demand for renewable energy, another has been the emergence of innovative technologies that have facilitated this green energy revolution.
Software, in particular, has been playing a significant role in how the industry has been able to build the systems and processes necessary to clean up its act. But what are the key areas and what changes are we likely to see in 2024?
A DIGITISED FUTURE
Innovative software is already facilitating everything from providing an end-to-end connected journey for energy sales, to managing risk at a time of unprecedented price volatility.
However, as the industry moves towards net zero, it is in the areas of solar, electric vehicles (EVs) and heat pumps that software will perhaps be seen the most.
The solar market continues to scale rapidly worldwide. One of the reasons is that there are not many incumbent IT stacks to circumvent.
However, the solar installation process itself is complex. Therefore, a host of software solutions have emerged to digitise the solar lifecycle from site selection to ongoing maintenance.
Central to this has been those that ensure that the solar farms themselves are placed in the optimum locations.
As solar adoption continues to swell, we will only see more software solutions emerging to facilitate the change.
By the end of the decade, EVs are projected to represent the majority of new car sales, with everyone from Mercedes to Mazda launching models.
Software is already touching every aspect of the value chain, from battery analytics, to charging, to fleet electrification.
Yet, in 2024 I predict there will be more solutions launched that build on top of existing charging offerings to provide billing and payment solutions that strengthen the ecosystem.
Many countries now have government grants to encourage end users to switch from traditional gas boilers to modern heat pumps.
The sector will undoubtably drive forward in 2024. Software will become increasingly instrumental in facilitating heat pump design, speeding up proposal creation, and improving the time it takes for contractors to assess a home’s readiness for heat pumps.
USE OF AI IN FORECASTING
Software is already touching every aspect of the EV value chain
Like most industries, the energy sector is starting to use artificial intelligence (AI) to streamline mundane tasks and reduce the propensity for manual errors.
In an industry such as energy, the latter is particularly important as the ramifications of an error can be catastrophic.
AI and machine learning is being used particularly effectively on the forecasting side.
Whereas with fossil fuels demand used to be the variable, supply was relatively constant. However, with renewable energy it has switched 180 degrees.
A windfarm is not particularly useful without wind and a solar farm is not especially useful without the sun.
Therefore, optimum weather forecasting is imperative so that energy suppliers can make informed decisions and load balance the network effectively. Remember, though, that AI is only as good as the data that flows into it.
DATA IS DRIVING ACCOUNTABILITY
Data is driving accountability within the sector. In the past, certain more unscrupulous suppliers have been accused of using deceitful marketing gimmicks to exaggerate their environment-friendly actions.
However, consumers are remarkably savvy, and those suppliers have recognised the need to leave such ‘greenwashing’ behind and become accountable.
It has not been straightforward though. Energy has become increasingly decentralised as it has become decarbonised.
Therefore, ensuring complete energy genealogy throughout the supply chain has been difficult due to a lack of consistent data.
However, times are changing. Technology such as Internet of Things (IOT) sensors are now being used to facilitate accountability by collecting energy data from a whole host of distributed devices.
This data can be used to produce a certificate of authenticity – such as a Renewable Energy Certificate (RECs) – that proves that the energy generated is from the renewable sources it claims.
As data becomes more prevalent and accessible in 2024, energy management solutions will become more precise and amplify the benefits customers can derive from renewable energy.
They will be able to save on energy costs, whether by procuring energy from the cheapest supplier or facilitating energy use when rates are cheapest.
KEY ENABLER TO THE GREEN ENERGY REVOLUTION
The industry’s combined move towards net-zero has led to a need for software to both optimise physical asset performance and increase the accountability of the supporting energy ecosystem.
So much so that many legacy oil and gas service providers themselves now view themselves as technology service providers.
For example, just last year oilfield services giant Schlumberger rebranded itself as a digital services provider and supporter of cleaner energies.
In 2024, the technologies needed to address our energy challenges will take many forms, from AI being used to better forecast the weather to IOT sensors being used to provide the intelligence to optimise delivery.
Yet there is no doubt that technology has become the key enabler to the green energy revolution.