The population of the earth will reach 9.7 billion people by 2050, according to a recent report by the United Nations. As people move to more populated areas, cities are facing the challenges of providing enough power to accommodate everyone while using outdated power grids. Built in the 1890s, current electric grids are unreliable, costly and inefficient. A single fallen tree branch can cause black outs in entire areas for hours. Not to mention, congested roadways and increased emissions continue to impact the health and happiness of people across the globe.
The Internet of Things (IoT) has the power to reshape the way we think about cities across the world. IoT connects people and governments to smart city solutions with the invention of Smart Grid technology, designed to improve upon and replace the older architecture.
What is the Smart Grid?
The Smart Grid is critical to building a secure, clean, and more efficient future, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The Smart Grid is part of an IoT framework, which can be used to remotely monitor and manage everything from lighting, traffic signs, traffic congestion, parking spaces, road warnings, and early detection of things like power influxes as the result of earthquakes and extreme weather. The Smart Grid does this through a network of transmission lines, smart meters, distribution automation, substations, transformers, sensors, software and more that are distributed to businesses and homes across the city.
Smart Grid technologies all contribute to efficient IoT energy management solutions that are currently lacking in the existing framework. What makes the IoT Smart Grid better is two-way communication between connected devices and hardware that can sense and respond to user demands. These technologies mean that a Smart Grid is more resilient and less costly than the current power infrastructure.
Smart Grid, Smart Energy: Benefits of IoT Monitoring and Regulation
Current power grids aren’t made to withstand the immense draw on resources and the need to transmit data for billions of people across the globe. The Smart Grid can detect energy spikes and equipment failure, prevent power outages, and route power to those in need more quickly.
Here are just a few of the benefits of transitioning to IoT Smart Grid technology:
1. Smarter Energy Use
Smart Grid technologies will help to reduce energy consumption and costs through usage and data maintenance. For example, intelligent lighting through smart city technology will be able to monitor usage across different areas, immediately adapt to settings like rain or fog, adjust output to meet the time of day or to meet traffic conditions, and detect and address lighting outages instantly. For consumer applications, users can adjust the temperature of their home thermostats through apps while they are at work or on vacation.
2. Cleaner Energy Use
Smart Grid technologies are less demanding on batteries, carbon efficient, and designed to reduce the peak load on distribution feeders. The U.S. Department of Energy is currently integrating green technology into their IoT smart management for more sustainable solutions. Optimized wind turbines, solar cells, microgrid technologies, and feeder automation systems have the potential to benefit all levels of the distribution chain.
3. Lower Costs
According to the Department of Energy, today’s electrical system power outages and interruptions cost Americans at least $150 billion each year, putting the price tag at about $500 per person. As the world’s population continues to rise, the older grids won’t be able to keep up with the increasing demands. Smart Grids are designed to lower costs through smart energy IoT monitoring and source rerouting the instant a power failure is detected.
4. Improved Transportation and Parking
IoT smart sensors can collect data in real-time to relay information to drivers and authorities. This will ultimately reduce traffic congestion, provide better parking solutions, alert drivers to traffic incidents and structural damage to city landscapes, and allow for automatic payments at road tolls and parking meters. In the future, IoT technology is even expected to be able to wirelessly charge electric vehicles.
5. Help with Waste and Water Management
Smart cities improve efficiency and reduce costs in their waste and water management solutions. IoT applications can provide real-time data to track inventory and reduce theft/loss. Cloud-based analytics and traffic control can improve scheduling and time spent on truck routes. Smart energy analytics can gather data on water flow, pressure, temperature and more to help consumers keep track of their usage habits. Timers and infrastructure modules can help regulate usage and reduce waste.
6. Energy Enablement in Developing Countries
The previously mentioned IEA report discusses that “smart grids could be used to get electricity to sparsely populated areas by enabling a transition from simple, one-off approaches to electrification (e.g. battery-based household electrification) to community grids that can then connect to national and regional grids.” These grids will be critical for the deployment of new power infrastructures in developing countries that are beginning to experience the impacts of population overflow. Starting with new technology ensures the best path to economic growth.
7. Greater Insight into Regional Issues
Optimized smart city solutions mean greater insight into regional issues. Imagine a smart grid set up to respond to a regional drought or wildfires in a dry area. Similarly, adaptive city fog lighting would be great for a city in the northeast U.S., but ineffective somewhere else. Customized technology and better data collection can help to improve the daily lives of countless regional populations.
These are just a few of the many benefits that IoT-enabled smart grid solutions can provide. Once fully integrated, smart grid technologies can change the way we work, play, and interact with the world around us.
Finding Smart City Solutions for the Future
Smarter cities are built on smarter infrastructure. Telit’s IoT applications enable solutions for smart cities and transportation which allows organizations to improve efficiency while creating smarter, more sustainable cities across the globe. Contact us find out how our IoT modules, connectivity, and services have helped cities improve traffic and parking safety, reduce the cost of lighting, and efficiently impact waste and water management issues across the globe.