Technology Breakthroughs That Will Redefine the Energy Sector in 2020

Energy

Energy

Use of cutting-edge technologies can immensely transform the way energy industry functions.

The proliferation of advanced technologies such as big data analytics, edge computing, AI, and IoT, among others, has a significant impact on the energy sector. Today, the world has an energy system that is made up of the integration of conventional and distributed energy sources rather than centralized. These technological advancements in the industry will not just bring transformation but also enable organizations to be prepared for.

The emergence of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) now begins contributing to this transition, becoming prevalent within energy space. Organizations realize the use of IoT solutions as they can alter many parts of their operations and give them opportunities to gain more ROI. Implementing IoT not only connects machines and appliances but also enables for greater connectivity across entire assets, including drilling rigs, refineries, pipelines, grids, among others, to optimize performance and lower downtime. It also improves health and safety, and environmental performance management.

There is no surprise that the industry today is on the verge of the introduction of Digital Twins that leverage data from IoT devices and create a virtual simulation of an asset to advance efficiencies and power predictive maintenance. However, as the adoption rate of IoT increases, energy services providers will need to address the potential challenges of cultivating and exploiting data from the technology appropriately. Besides, they must make sure the security and performance of their growing IoT networks using an identity-driven IoT platform.

Meanwhile, most disruptive technologies like energy blockchains and flow batteries have been relatively quiet this year. Batteries are the most common devices in the energy sector as they power electronics, tools and other assets. With the rise of wind and solar power, most energy companies are now seeking ways to keep electrons flowing when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind ebbs. Hence, these giant devices termed flow batteries that use tanks of electrolytes are able to store abundant electricity to power thousands of homes for many hours.

In addition to this, there are tremendous technological breakthroughs that will have a major impact on energy companies. Here are some top technology trends driving the industry in 2020 and beyond.

 

Microgrids

Microgrids are small-scale power grids and are local energy grids that can operate either autonomously or while connected to a larger traditional grid. They provide efficient, low-cost, clean energy, and enhance local resiliency and improve the operation and stability of the regional electric grid. By leveraging the machine learning capabilities with microgrid controllers enables continuous adaptation and improvement of operation. Today, deployment of microgrids has become significantly fast, with new software that allows for designs to be completed in a single day.

 

Marine Solar Power

With the growing interest in offshore solar, floating solar panels now are heading out to sea. A marine solar power solution is an integrated class-accepted system that may comprise a marine computer, batteries, battery chargers, marine-grade solar panels and interfaces to other equipment and sensors. In June this year, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, for instance, issued a request for proposals from consultants willing to study, develop and construct floating solar plants in the Arabian Gulf. Prior to this, in 2018, a Dutch company, Oceans of Energy had formed a consortium to design, develop and operate the world’s first offshore floating solar farm.

 

Molten Salt Reactor

It is a section of a nuclear fission reactor and uses molten fluoride salts as primary coolant, at low pressure. Since the fuel salt is liquid, it can be both the fuel, producing the heat, and the coolant, transporting the heat to the power plant. There are several types of Molten Salt Reactors, but the most widespread one is Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR). This molten salt reactor has Thorium and Uranium dissolved in a fluoride salt and can get planet-scale amounts of energy out of the earth’s natural resources of Thorium minerals.