Home Business Insights & Advice Emerging trends in energy management systems

Emerging trends in energy management systems

by Sarah Dunsby
1st Mar 24 1:36 pm

The energy management landscape is undergoing a major transformation. We expect to see several key trends emerge that will change the way we monitor, control, and conserve energy. These innovations promise smarter, more efficient, and more sustainable energy management systems (EMS).

In this article, we will explore the most impactful EMS trends for 2024. By adopting these new technologies and strategies, businesses and households can optimise energy use, reduce costs, and lower environmental impact according to Resustain. Together, these innovations will redefine modern energy management.

Integration of Internet of Things (IoT) devices

The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming energy management by connecting devices and allowing them to share data in real time. This technology enables greater control and visibility over energy consumption.

Some key ways IoT is improving EMS:

  • Smart, connected devices gather detailed energy usage data in real-time, enabling enhanced monitoring and analytics.
  • IoT empowers managers to remotely oversee devices such as smart thermostats and lighting, optimising energy utilisation from any location.
  • Utilising AI, predictive analytics foresee future consumption patterns and recommend efficiencies, such as preemptive equipment maintenance, through energy data analysis.
  • IoT devices autonomously regulate energy consumption, adapting to predefined parameters, real-time pricing fluctuations, occupancy changes, and more, without human intervention.
  • Early failure detection by IoT sensors facilitates proactive maintenance and repairs, reducing operational downtime significantly.

Examples of IoT devices for energy management

  1. Smart thermostats like Google Nest and Ecobee that auto-adjust temperatures based on occupancy, weather data, user preferences etc. This reduces HVAC energy consumption.
  2. Occupancy sensors that turn lights on/off based on detecting motion in a space. This prevents lights from being left on in vacant rooms.
  3. Smart electric metres that provide granular energy usage data to utilities and customers. This enables better energy monitoring.
  4. Battery storage management systems that optimise energy storage and distribution from renewable sources.

The IoT offers endless possibilities for energy optimisation. The EMS gains more data, control, and automation capabilities as more smart devices are deployed. This drives efficiency while reducing energy waste.

Adoption of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are playing an integral role in advancing energy management systems. By continuously analysing massive amounts of data, these technologies can optimise energy use in a variety of ways:

Predicting energy demand

  • AI systems can forecast energy demand across power grids by assessing historical usage patterns, weather data, local events, and other factors.
  • More accurate demand predictions allow utilities to improve infrastructure planning and load balancing.

Identifying inefficiencies

  • ML algorithms can mine usage data to detect anomalies and inefficiencies in energy infrastructure like transmission losses.
  • This allows managers to address wastage issues and optimise systems.

Recommending energy improvements

  • AI can process data from sensors and metres to highlight deficiencies in buildings, equipment, or processes.
  • It can then recommend data-driven upgrades like insulation, HVAC replacements, or process redesign to improve efficiency.

Automating energy management

  • AIenables real-time automated control of energy systems like HVACs and lighting without human input.
  • For example, AI can continuously calibrate settings to adapt to weather, occupancy levels, electricity prices etc.

Ongoing system optimisation

  • ML models like neural networks learn from data over time and “tune” energy systems to operate at peak efficiency.
  • They can catch degrading performance and adjust settings as needed.

The data processing muscle of AI and ML will drive the transition to smarter, more predictive, and more autonomous energy management. As these technologies continue to evolve, they will unlock further efficiency gains.

Increased use of renewable energy sources

The rise of eco-awareness and sustainability is driving greater adoption of renewable energy sources in EMS. Solar, wind, and other renewables are being integrated with traditional power sources to create cleaner, greener hybrid energy systems.

  • Solar panels on rooftops, parking covers, and open spaces generate emissions-free electricity. Smart EMS distributes this solar power effectively.
  • Wind turbines provide renewable power generation. AI helps predict wind availability to align supply with demand.
  • Battery storage systems help overcome the intermittent nature of solar and wind power by storing excess energy for later use.
  • Renewables combined with battery storage provide resilience when grid power is unavailable.
  • Smart EMS can seamlessly switch between renewable and conventional fuel sources based on availability and demand.
  • Using locally generated renewable power also reduces reliance on transmission lines that lose electricity during distribution.

The inclusion of renewables provides flexibility and energy independence. As technology advances, expect a continued shift away from fossil fuels towards solar, wind, and other sustainable energy sources.

Blockchain for energy transactions

Blockchain is a potentially transformative technology for energy management, especially in distributed peer-to-peer power transactions and grid management:

  1. It enables consumers to directly buy or sell excess renewable electricity with each other, removing intermediaries.
  2. Blockchain’s decentralised public ledger provides trusted, tamper-proof record-keeping for all energy transactions.
  3. Smart contracts automate and guarantee energy trades, payments, and agreements on the blockchain.
  4. This disintermediation allows consumers to become “prosumers” – both producing and consuming energy.
  5. Blockchain also shows promise for securing utility grid systems against cyberattacks. Its decentralised nature means there is no single point of failure.
  6. Early energy-related blockchain projects focus on decentralising power markets and enabling small-scale “microgrids”.
  7. If widely adopted, blockchain could enable localised renewable energy trading and radically democratise energy markets.

While still evolving, blockchain technology holds exciting potential to transform future energy management. It promotes decentralisation, empowers consumers, and accelerates renewable energy adoption.

Focus on energy efficiency and conservation

Organisations are adopting technology-driven and behaviour-driven solutions to reduce energy consumption.

On the technology side, the focus is on making buildings and equipment more efficient through smart lighting, HVAC, and production process improvements. Companies are replacing outdated models with ENERGY STAR-certified devices.

Simple behavioural changes are promoted through education, incentives, and competitions that motivate employees to save energy.

Onsite renewable energy generation also plays a role. Solar panels and batteries store clean electricity for later use. Waste heat capture systems reuse steam and heat instead of releasing it.

This multifaceted approach enhances efficiency, conservation, and sustainability.

Enhanced cybersecurity measures

With energy management infrastructure increasingly digitised and networked, cybersecurity is paramount. Smart EMS face risks of:

  • Ransomware attacks that can disable systems by encrypting data
  • Malignant code that can manipulate or destroy software
  • Hacked smart devices being used to disrupt grid operations
  • DDoS attacks that overwhelm systems by flooding them with traffic

To guard against threats, modern EMS prioritise cybersecurity:

  • Network segmentation and air-gapped systems prevent unauthorised access
  • Encryption of sensitive operational data for privacy and security
  • Monitoring systems for anomalies and intrusion attempts
  • Redundant systems, backups, and rapid recovery protocols to minimise disruption
  • AI is used for so much these days and will be a mainstay of everything from AI business tools , to AI social media tools , to algorithms that continuously assess and improve cyber defences
  • Regular penetration testing by ethical hackers to expose weaknesses
  • Comprehensive cybersecurity standards required for suppliers and vendors

With potential risks comes the need for vigilance. Proactive cybersecurity allows EMS to be powerful yet protected.

Regulatory and policy support

Governments are establishing rules, regulations, and policies to accelerate the adoption of smart energy managsement systems. Supportive regulations are driving EMS innovations through:

  • Renewable energy mandates – Requirements for utilities to source a percentage of power from solar, wind, etc. This expands renewable energy infrastructure.
  • Efficiency standards – Minimum energy performance standards for buildings and appliances incentivise high-efficiency upgrades.
  • Financial incentives – Tax breaks, rebates, and subsidies for installing renewable energy systems and efficiency measures.
  • Transition assistance – Programs to retrain fossil fuel workers for clean energy jobs.
  • Public investment – Funding renewable energy R&D, pilot programs, infrastructure upgrades.
  • Streamlined permitting – Cutting red tape to make approvals easier for energy projects.
  • Net metering laws – Allowing on-site renewable generators to sell excess energy back to the grid.
  • Decarbonisation policies – Regulations to phase out carbon-intensive infrastructure over time.
  • Disclosure mandates – Requiring energy use transparency so stakeholders can benchmark progress.

Smart policies help accelerate EMS transformations by directing markets, shaping investment, creating jobs, removing barriers and mandating progress. As governments make energy efficiency, sustainability and resilience top priorities, they clear the path for EMS innovations to maximise impact. Policy and technology work hand-in-hand to drive change.

Conclusion

There is tremendous potential for smarter, more sustainable systems as emerging technologies transform energy management in 2024 and beyond. But realising this potential requires holistic integration.

The innovations profiled here – IoT, AI, blockchain, increased renewables, and efficiency measures – are powerful tools. But their impact depends on human behaviour change and policy support. EMS transformation calls for a systemic approach that connects technology, people and governance.

The future looks bright if we apply these new solutions while promoting conservation and environmental awareness. With sound cybersecurity and a balanced transition, we can reap the benefits of innovation.

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