Energy 4.0: Digitalization in the Energy Industry

Johannes Beekman

Energy 4.0 encompasses next-gen technologies that will digitally transform the energy and utility industry. Oil, gas, and renewable energy companies are already adopting it. This shift parallels another transition known as Industry 4.0, which is the advent of intelligent manufacturing.

These significant changes will have a profound effect on the streamlining of industrial facilities, leading to more efficiency enjoyed by manufacturers, municipalities, and consumers alike. The emerging ecosystem of smart technology, power generation, power distribution, and more efficient consumption yields lower costs and less waste. 

Mixing IoT with Energy Production

Energy and utility companies have been using digital technology since the 1970s, which has prepared them well for today’s cloud-based Energy 4.0 technologies that incorporate IoT devices. 

Now, IoT technology is rapidly gaining adoption among oil and gas companies because it modernizes operations through expanded data analysis. Driven by IoT sensors, machine learning, and automation, smart devices monitor operational systems to deliver greater efficiency for energy companies, identifying vulnerabilities within the system.

Power plants can share actionable data from IoT sensors with suppliers to improve the entire supply chain. Big data can detect inefficiencies in real-time, leading to faster decision-making on power distribution. 

Digital Twins

Energy 4.0 also incorporates exciting new developments by NASA in energy production called digital twin technology. This technology involves digital duplication of real-life objects or processes without installing new equipment. A digital twin gathers intelligence from IoT devices connected with its counterpart for performance monitoring. Machine learning systems then provide analysts with reports on technical issues, maintenance costs and available options.

Digital twin technology is steadily being embraced by large manufacturers as well to streamline operations. General Electric, for instance, uses over a million digital twins now to monitor jet engines around the world.

Smart Cities and Smart Energy

You will no doubt hear increasingly more about smart cities in the coming years. Local governments, utilities, and other businesses are already adopting smart technology for energy and other sectors to cut costs and waste. 

IoT and big data ultimately help to promote energy conservation, as more efficient infrastructure results in better quality of life. Not only can customers monitor energy usage in real-time on a daily basis, they can also reduce energy bills by planning their energy consumption more carefully.

In Europe, over 75 cities are currently working together to use smart energy solutions for the development of smart cities. The plan is known as the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC). Smart parking to help commuters find appropriate parking slots with their digital devices is part of this plan.

Modernizing the Grid

Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) is a solution that gives energy customers more control over their energy usage. Its evolution is moving toward upgrading the traditional grid system through self-generated power that contributes to the grid. 

Apple and Google are examples of two large companies that generate their own power. Both tech giants have been successful at cutting costs and going greener with DERs. Utilities can become much more flexible at power generation by utilizing them as well.

New Blockchain Solutions

Another new technology of the past decade making factories more digital is blockchain. This system, which can also be extremely useful for power companies, allows for highly secure data storage, transactions, accounting, and much more. By distributing pieces of data in encrypted blocks, cybercriminals have a much more difficult challenge for breaching systems.

Johannes Beekman

Johannes Beekman

Our CEO has more than 25 years of experience in manufacturing in the high-tech industry. Johannes has worked for 25 years in the semiconductor industry, where he worked for Philips, Infineon, and Sematech in various management positions in process development, engineering, operations, and sales and marketing. While working for Philips, he was an engineering manager in 2 wafer fab startups. And while at Sematech, he managed various international technical symposia. He has built 3 successful digital marketing companies in the past 8 years. His focus is marketing integration, marketing technology, SEO, and inbound and outbound marketing. And he has developed a content creation system that uses the AIDA model to develop content for every stage of the sales funnel. Johannes has experience working with companies in manufacturing, the high-tech industry, process industry, IT, healthcare, and legal industry, and he has published on several trade-focused websites.

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