Managing Partner of Breed Reply, Emanuele Angeilidis answers questions on the impact of IoT on the fight against climate change. Breed Reply is a firm believer that IoT has an important role to play in moving countries and industries towards a zero carbon future (as discussed here)
Absolutely, and I would say that the impact will be significant, even transformational. If I look through our investment portfolio, I can see numerous IoT businesses whose products and services, offer significant environmental benefit, as well as helping industries be more efficient, reduce costs, and creating new business models. For example, METRON uses IoT to create smart energy networks in factories, maximising energy efficiency every nanosecond. AppyPay uses sensor technology to help cars speedily identify empty parking spaces and allow remote paying. This system speeds up each journey, reducing congestion, and therefore, carbon emissions. Even if each application makes only minor improvements when scaled over an industry or across a City, the impact will be huge.
In the sense that industrial energy usage is extensive then absolutely. By using IoT technology combined with AI or machine learning, making industry more energy efficient will be significant in terms of tackling climate change. As well as smarter energy usage, there are lots of other environmentally beneficial IoT applications. Predictive analytics is a good example. If you can identify when a machine is about to break, then not only can you reduce factory downtime by preventing breakage, you reduce the environmental impact of a faulty device, or the need to make a new one.
Where the monitoring becomes beneficial is if it can convince a mass of consumers and households to take up IoT, for example, in terms of smart metering. Not a meter that tells you what your bill is but more advanced ones that decide when is the most efficient time to turn on your washing machine. If IoT can save a multi-national company 5% in every site that it uses, then that could have a significant impact on the bottom line making the decision easy. Getting a household to change the way it operates for a small financial benefit is harder. Part of convincing millions of families to embrace IoT technology will be to convince them of the economic and environmental advantages.
IoT is benefiting every part of the energy sector. For the end consumer, they can get a detailed understanding of household energy consumption, while the energy supplier can get an incredible insight into consumer behaviour, When you apply tools like predictive analytics it can transform how energy grids are managed, how energy is priced and will help the industry better plan for future capacity needs
For a sector, that is diverse and in some cases is situated in some of the remotest regions in the world, IoT’s ability to connect everything, and turn all that data into insight, it could be a transformative technology. Implementation of IoT across sectors including energy is going to be key for Governments to hit tough carbon targets in the future.
There will be variations of how it is employed. Still, ultimately the impact is the same, IIOT delivers a rich, real-time understanding of usage, which means you can better predict future usage. If you utilise technologies like AI, the sector can make better decisions about future usage. Across the industry, that insight will be employed differently, for example, to achieve greater efficiency, consumer savings, insight for energy suppliers, improved use of a distributed grid, better improved grid management, and remote asset monitoring. For example for oil & gas companies it can guide decisions about future project investment, saving billions.
It is one part of what we need to do. Crudely put, if I apply IoT technology to a coal-fired power station, I will end up with a more efficient, less polluting power station, but still burning coal. Using IoT and AI to reduce congestion in a City will reduce carbon emissions, but not as much as using more electric cars, or making everyone cycle! On its own, it is not the solution, but will play a significant role.
5G will accelerate connectivity as it allows many more connections. The most significant evolution will be using IoT to create smart energy networks. Connectivity and insight combined with battery storage mean that houses, for example, could share electricity based on need, which could eliminate peaks and troughs. If you create a truly interconnected smart city, then we could dramatically reduce wasted energy, saving money, and improving the environment.