Energy and IT: although two rather unlikely allies, digitalisation has slipped into the pocket of the energy industry, where we are now seeing a flourishing partnership begin to form.
From blockchain technology to smart meters, information technology is revolutionising the way we understand, generate and consume energy – with investment in these digital technologies helping to improve sustainability, flexibility and efficiency across the energy sector.
So, how will tech’s latest alliance with energy disrupt and benefit the industry?
An online marketplace
Blockchain is bringing about shifts in every business sector and now, it’s energy’s turn. Take Petrobloq as an example: this up-and-coming blockchain venture could carve the way for the first blockchain-based platform for managing oil and gas supply. I believe the capabilities of such technology will provide a platform for businesses to store and sell any surplus energy they generate – opening up the procurement of cheaper energy and offering a greater degree of flexibility.
In addition, I think the pairing of blockchain and AI could enable the identification of consumer energy patterns and create options for the provision of tailored energy products – which, in turn, will offer more flexibility to customers and help increase profits.
Lean, green extraction machines
Thanks to the discovery of cleaner fuels such as hydrogen and advances in wind energy and solar power, we are certainly on the right track when it comes to finding alternatives to fossil fuels.
However, I believe there is still work to be done in this area and the reality is that many energy companies will default to coal or oil (for now). But in the meantime, technology offers a middle ground – with recent breakthroughs allowing the extraction of fossil fuels to become a more sustainable process.
For example, technologies are being developed to ease the ramifications of hydraulic fracking. Innovation has allowed energy companies to pressurise gases, such as propane, into foams or gels to replace the vast quantities of water involved in the process. What’s more, increased levels of automation at drill sites has allowed fewer materials to be wasted – which is not only good in terms of sustainability but also when it comes to reducing costs.
I’ve also seen many companies in the energy sector enhance their use of Internet of Things (IOT) technology to gather live data about their offshore oil rigs and wind turbines. This software offers a greater level of control which can help businesses lower their energy bills, reduce downtime and improve overall performance. Better management also means less waste which will help energy companies to operate more sustainably.
Globally, organisations are beginning to recognise the benefits of using smart meters to maximise energy efficiency in the workplace. Smart meters use AI algorithms to detect times of peak energy usage and adjust energy prices accordingly, thereby reducing industry costs and creating a more effective grid that uses resources efficiently.
It is no secret that the energy sector produces a significant bulk of CO2 global emissions every year, but the effective use of smart meters could allow companies to track precisely how much energy they and their customers are consuming on a daily basis. Rather than operating based on assumptions, I think this heightened knowledge and understanding of consumption levels will enable energy production companies to adequately match supply with actual demand.
Training for tomorrow’s tech
Not a day goes by where technology does not evolve. It is, therefore, essential that staff working in the energy sector are given appropriate training and kept up to date about the latest information technology being deployed across the industry.
At Pro Drive IT, we have a wealth of experience working in this sector – covering a range of areas from oil and gas to geoscience and energy trading – and offer continuous IT support and a variety of training resources to ensure employees always know how to use the latest technology.
To find out more about how Pro Drive IT can work with you to meet the challenges of the demanding yet dynamic energy sector, visit www.prodriveit.co.uk/energy-services