What Does Internet of Energy Mean?

Internet of Energy (IoE) refers to the upgrading and automating of electricity infrastructures for energy producers. This allows energy production to move forward more efficiently and cleanly with the least amount of waste. The term is derived from the increasingly prominent market for Internet of Things technology, which has helped develop the distributed energy systems that make up the IoE. An example of IoE technology includes utilizing smart sensors, common among other IoT technology applications, which allows such IoE-facilitated mechanics as power monitoring, distributed storage, and renewable energy integration.

Understanding Internet of Energy (IoE)

The implementation of IoE technology has been billed as a way to promote the reduction of inefficiencies in existing energy infrastructure, namely by optimizing the performance of the generation, transmission, and utilization of electricity through IoT technology. As an example of its applications by existing corporations in the industry, IoE technology is being utilized by a General Electric-launched startup to pair LEDs and solar panels with software, which then gather data to apply insights to corporate operations that aim to increase lighting-related savings and productivity.

Correcting Energy Inefficiencies

Updating electric infrastructures allows energy to flow efficiently, maximizing its potential and reducing energy waste. When energy is transmitted over lines that cannot conduct it efficiently, much of that energy is lost along the way. The lines simply don't have the capacity to carry all the energy being sent.

As countries around the world invest more in green energy and renewable resources, the inefficiencies of existing power infrastructures around the world are often overlooked. This means that renewable energy cannot be provided at its optimum level of efficiency because the grid cannot fully support it. For example, China is one of the world's largest producers of renewable energy, but it still experiences shortages and energy crises because it cannot deliver that energy at a level that can sustain its population. This results in power outages and gaps. The energy exists but the infrastructure does not. Similarly, the country produces a massive number of electric vehicles but doesn't have sufficient charging stations, so the vehicles cannot operate. In 2014, China's energy loss due to infrastructure inefficiencies was larger than the energy used annually by many countries around the world. But according to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, the nation's energy efficiency levels have improved in the years since, with the amount of energy used to produce a unit of the China's gross domestic product (GDP) dropping by 5% in 2016, the most recent data available as of January 2018.

The Future of the Internet of Energy (IoE)

One potential solution to the problem of energy inefficiency is ultra-high voltage transmission (UHV), a system that allows energy to be transmitted rapidly over long distances. UHV solves the problem of energy production being located too far from load centers. China first implemented UHV in 2009, but its development is constantly expanding to meet demand.

China is working to automate distribution and add more resources to meet demand, including more charging stations for electric cars. It is also constructing storage sites, particularly in those cities that use the most energy, in order to store excess energy efficiently and close to where it will be needed. This will have added economic benefits for the companies supplying renewable energy, such as solar and wind, due to the fact that more energy will be retained and sold, in addition to relatively low storage costs.

In coming years, as the world works toward harvesting renewable energy sources, the use of nonrenewable resources is expected to fall, which will reduce the need for outdated infrastructures that handle resources such as coal and oil.