We waste too much energy and this is a direct cause of global warming. Imagine a fully integrated electrical system that is safer, cleaner and sustainable. By utilising the Internet, Smart devices, sensors and switches technologists have designed systems that save energy in an intelligent fashion, saving the consumer money in the process.
The Internet of things
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best: The Internet of Things uses the existing infrastructure of the Internet to allow devices to communicate and share data. These devices include sensors, Smart devices, lights, motors and vehicles as well as any compatible electronics. The advantages of such a system are increases in automation, accuracy, efficiency and experience quality; going beyond current “machine : machine” systems. It is estimated that the IOT will contain over 50 billion objects by 2020.
The Internet of Energy
As a subset of the IOT, the Internet of Energy (IOE) encompasses all objects involved in provision and use of electricity from the power grid down to individual electronic devices. The main objective of the IOE is to develop hardware, software and middleware for seamless, secure connectivity and interoperability achieved by connecting the Internet with the energy grids. The implementation of IoE services involves the use of multiple components, including embedded systems, power electronics or sensors; which are an essential part of the infrastructure dedicated to the generation and distribution energy.
The Smart Grid
Large territories have developed interconnected electrical supply systems that use the same voltages and currents; these are most evident in large countries/continents like USA, Brazil and the EU where the electrical grids are standardised.
The IOE makes use of millions of sensors across the grid (devices, sockets etc) and integrated computing systems, connected using existing Internet infrastructure, allowing the prediction of future energy requirements: The Smart Grid. This affords huge savings in the amount of energy usage, in the form of fossil fuels and others. Encouragingly there are currently over 500 Smart Grid projects throughout the EU.
Smart Energy Devices
Smart socket devices on the market offer basic functionality that trails behind what has been achieved in the lab; available devices can turn off appliances, run schedules and monitor consumption but they are not fully automated ie. they do not respond intelligently to real time changes.
The importance of Smart devices in the IOE cannot be underestimated and researchers at The University of Coruña have recently presented a system that monitors electrical usage in the home and optimises consumption according to user preferences and electricity prices.
Researchers have a produced an integrated system that uses live electricity prices, obtained from the Internet, in order to optimise usage for the user. This system also self-organises, using the WiFi infrastructure so that it can collect data with minimal user intervention. All of the software is open source, allowing its modification by future developers and uses.
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