There is need for sustainable renewable electricity development by using the tools of Industry 4.0, which is also known as Energy 4.0 or the digital revolution of energy. While renewable energy already exists, it is crucial that these solutions are implemented along with Industry 4.0 tools, such as using IoT, Digital Twin Technology, artificial intelligence and an entire smart grid for a smart city. Hence, the two distinct criteria to focus would be on the volume of consumption, and whether the source is renewable. By implementing this technology, it is found that energy consumption of 5 industries is reduced by 13-29% (5).
With an ever-increasing world population, the electricity demand increases. However, the non-renewable sources of energy (oil, coal, etc.) are not sustainable as they will be used up one day. Furthermore, toxic gases such as nitrogen oxides are released, along with greenhouse gases such as CO2 . While energy 3.0 already offers renewable energy, the important thing to point is how to reduce energy consumption, i.e. via a more efficient process and decreasing redundant energy. Hence, the following solutions can help in implementing energy 4.0.
The existing sensors of Energy 3.0 can already monitor load, temperature, voltage, amongst other parameters; however, combining with Industry 4.0 tools, energy consumption becomes more sustainable. IoT sensors are used by electric companies to gather information about their machinery(1). The data is analyzed along with rest of the data from the smart grid through machine learning algorithms and big data. Problems are predicted in advance and operations managers can understand when to repair or replace a machine. Lifetime of machinery increases by proper maintenance in due time, thus reducing wastage of old machines, and reducing waste is key to sustainability. IoT sensors can also detect temperature, humidity, and vibrations, which helps to avoid machine breakdowns and to increase safety of the personnel handling the equipment(2). IoT sensors are tiny-sized, cheap, and consume very little energy(1).
Digital Twin Technology was first introduced by NASA(2). A digital twin is defined as a model of a real object or procedure without replacement (i.e. “mirriors” the perfect performance of the real object). The digital twin collects information from IoT systems, which are connected to the physical twin. The physical twin and digital twin are compared to detect performance problems. This comparison is done in a machine learning system, where repair expenditure and benefits of multiple repair options are displayed.
Businesses which are hugely dependent on electricity use Industry 4.0 tools to decrease energy costs. The entire energy management system is run by AI, which analyzes electricity market, worldwide electricity usage and the company’s energy requirements(2). The AI shows which is the appropriate time to purchase energy (especially when price is low), and when to use
alternatives such as solar power or storage devices. This whole mechanism causes a total of 30% decrease in energy costs(3).
It is not enough for individual industries to maintain Energy 4.0. A smart city can implement a smart power grid, which is powered by renewable energy such as wind power. This can be facilitated by proper environmental policies. The same quality of life can be maintained while decreasing energy consumption substantially. All the individual industries located within the smart city can hence collectively make electricity more sustainable.
A successful example is Germany. Germany achieved 30% energy efficiency by implementing robotics optimization in the car manufacturing industry(4). The technological tools of Industry 4.0 allows for more flexible automation and more efficient energy storage. In the North of Germany, NEW 4.0 project gives electricity to 4.5 million people. Areas where there are excess production of electricity divert electricity to areas where there is less electricity, which allows for consumption to be evenly distributed – a technique known as smart balancing.
There are many hurdles in the process of implementing Energy 4.0. This involves in the lack of awareness of the business economics of energy digitalization, as well as a shortage of qualified personnel(4). This is a very new and emerging industry, and thus has very little investment.
Sustainable and renewable energy is needed for the future to prevent air pollution, wastage and climate change, with optimization achieved from using Industry 4.0. IoT and AI have already been implemented successfully in the energy sector in its initial stages, and more needs to be done to make this emerging technology widespread.
1. Energy 4.0, Revolution or Fad? (electricenergyonline.com)
2. Energy 4.0: Digital Transformation In Energy & Utilities Industry – MobiDev 3. Stem Inc., “Reduce Global Adjustment charges with the world leader in energy storage,” Stem Inc., 2019.
4. The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Towards Energy 4.0 in Kazakhstan | IEEE Conference Publication | IEEE Xplore
5. https://www.dexma.com/blog-en/energy-4-0-how-digital-revolution-is-shaping-the-future -of-electricity/
Asfaria Islam Chowdhury
North South University