What Technology Breakthroughs Driving Energy Sector in 2020

Today, with the proliferation of cutting-edge technology in the energy sector, the world has an energy system that is made up of the integration of conventional and distributed energy sources rather than centralised. This technological progress in the industry is not just a change that organizations must prepare for; it is the pace of transformation wherein companies should adapt themselves.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has now become a commonplace within energy space as organizations realize the use of IoT solutions can alter many parts of their operations. It 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 enhances health and safety and environmental performance management.

The world is at the beginning 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 this year, energy companies will need to address the challenge of appropriately cultivating and exploiting data from the technology. Also, they need to make sure the security and performance of their growing IoT networks using an identity-driven IoT platform.

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

Apart from this, there are various technology breakthroughs that will have a major impact on energy companies. Here are the top tech trends driving the industry in 2020 and beyond.

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.

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.

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.