The global energy industry is evolving from a model that relies on large centralized power plants owned by utilities to one that is much more diverse. More sources of generation and the integration of new distributed energy resources offers major opportunities in a market that is becoming more competitive and more innovative.
It’s not surprising that with the amount of control we now have over most things in our lives using the internet, ie. online finances, home comfort and security, health and wellbeing etc. that we would want more control over something that's steadily costing more each year – our energy consumption. The cloud is key to providing us with this control, not just individuals but businesses, education institutes, city councils as well as energy grids and producers. It opens up the potential for entirely new ways of generating and distributing energy, through microgrids.
Analysts claim that the development of smart grids linked to smart cities will result in citizens saving £10 billion per annum in energy bills by 2022. Smart Grids will completely change the playing field, it means that utility companies that have historically gained from selling more energy to consumers than they need, will have to develop new business models to offer increased flexibility to customers. The Cloud is imperative to this future. Consumers selling excess energy back to the grid via renewables will start to form a distributed market place that could see consumers selling excess energy to each other in the future.
Home management via The Internet of Things (IoT) is another example of smarter, highly efficient energy use that relies on the cloud. Companies like Nest and Netatmo allow you to control your homes heating and other household appliances remotely via cloud services. Clear, graphical interfaces enable people to easily understand and control the comfort of their home from mobile devices such as smart phones.
One of the biggest factors in the role the cloud has across the energy sector is its ability to provide real-time data. This allows citizens and businesses to ensure they use energy in the right place, at the right time, and that they pay the right price. An example of this is the Energy App developed by IES for Glasgow Future City. The App was designed to allow Glasgow citizens to compare their homes energy use to similar properties and get tips on how to make it more efficient. Data supplied by Glasgow Energy app users has been used to help build up a more detailed picture of the type of energy used in different properties across the city and how energy efficient the buildings are. More information on the project and the impact it has had in Glasgow can be found by viewing the videos in our previous post here.
The Cloud is already dramatically changing the landscape of the energy industry in a number of ways. In the future we can expect to see a major transformation of the market place, as more and more companies use cloud technology to produce further innovations and advance the sector.