The Internet of Energy

The Internet of Energy

Posted on 22 Feb 2024

“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” - Nikola Tesla

The increasingly interdependent elements of energy production are now building on ideas behind software engineering to create a coordinated network of well managed and forward looking components. As many of the newer energy technologies have a higher reliance on our weather, the incorporation of nuanced and relevant weather data is playing an ever more important role in this critical industry.

The Internet of Energy (IoE) seamlessly connects power generators, distributors, and consumers through a digital network. This network collects data from smart meters, sensors, and connected devices to optimize energy use. In our latest blog post, we will look at how different energy sources can be managed, coordinated, and how weather data and energy storage can play just as an important role as generation.

Virtual Power Stations

A German battery manufacturer is pioneering the development of virtual power stations (VPPs). The philosophy of this energy generation model is to decentralize energy production away from large power stations, to a connected network of homes and businesses. These are all equipped with solar panels for energy generation, efficient batteries for energy storage, and coordinated by intelligent IoE software that incorporate a number of inputs including:

  • Real-time energy data: This includes data on energy generation from solar panels, battery storage levels, and grid demand within the region.

  • Weather forecasts: By incorporating weather predictions, the VPP can anticipate fluctuations in solar energy generation and optimize battery charging/discharging accordingly.

  • Market signals: The VPP can participate in electricity markets, buying low and selling high based on predicted prices and grid needs.

As energy is generated, stored and used locally, individuals feel far more involved with their energy consumption than with the traditional centralized model, and are also often involved with educational and community activities. 

Other benefits of this distributed energy model include:

  • Optimizing self-consumption: The VPP prioritizes using solar energy generated by individual households, reducing reliance on the grid and saving on electricity bills.

  • Grid support: When needed, the VPP can collectively discharge stored energy from batteries to stabilize the grid during peak demand periods or power outages.

  • Market participation: The VPP can buy and sell electricity on the wholesale market, generating additional income for participants.

How the IoE is being used around the world:

California's Duck Curve Challenge:

California boasts a significant solar energy capacity, but its abundance creates a unique challenge: the "duck curve." Solar power peaks around midday, coinciding with low energy demand. This excess solar energy can often not be stored, wasting a valuable resource. To address this, California's grid operator leverages advanced weather forecasting to predict solar generation and adjust grid operations accordingly. They also incentivize consumers to shift their energy use to midday, such as charging electric vehicles and running appliances. This innovative approach helps integrate more solar power while maintaining grid stability.

German Energy Transition (Energiewende):

Germany has embarked on an ambitious plan to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050. A crucial element of this plan is the "Smart Grid Showcase" project, which demonstrates the IoE's potential in managing a complex grid with high renewable energy penetration. Weather forecasts are integrated into grid management systems, allowing for real-time adjustments based on predicted wind and solar power output. This project serves as a model for other countries aiming for a sustainable energy future.

Indian Microgrid Revolution:

In rural communities, microgrids powered by solar panels and battery storage are being used to give local communities access to a reliable energy supply. These microgrids integrate weather forecasts to optimize energy use and ensure stable power supply even during unpredictable weather conditions. 

Danish Wind Power Integration:

Denmark, a leader in wind energy, uses advanced weather forecasting to optimize wind turbine output and integrate it seamlessly into the grid. Real-time and predicted wind data are used to manage power flows, trade electricity with neighboring countries, and even export surplus power. This efficient integration helps Denmark maintain grid stability despite its high reliance on wind power.

Energy Storage:

A key part of IoE is maintaining the ability to store electricity, to allow for fluctuations in both supply and demand. Lithium-ion batteries are currently the most widely used, however they do have a number of  limitations, such as cost and resource supply. Here we look into a few of the innovative ideas for alternative energy storage:

Flow (redox) batteries: Offer extended discharge times and enhanced scalability for large-scale energy storage. Although they do not offer the same levels of efficiency as Lithium-ion batteries, they can be seen as a lower cost alternative for large-scale energy storage.

Energy Vault – A Swiss startup organization has developed a long duration utility-scale energy storage technology that delivers continuous power from intermittent renewable sources such as solar and wind. Using the natural geography of their mountain location, water is pumped up into storage vaults during times of energy surplus, and released into lower holding areas when the power is needed. The advantage is that the energy can be stored almost indefinitely, and then released with little or no prior warning.

Sodium-ion batteries: A cheaper and more abundant alternative to lithium, offering similar performance at lower temperatures. While not as energy-dense, they are suitable for grid-scale applications requiring longer durations of energy storage.

Solid-state batteries: Replacing flammable liquid electrolytes with solid conductors, these batteries boast improved safety, faster charging, and higher energy density. Still in their early stages of development, they hold immense potential for electric vehicles and grid storage.

Concentrated solar power (CSP) plants: These use mirrors to focus sunlight onto heat receivers, storing thermal energy in molten salts for later electricity generation. Ideal for regions with abundant sunshine, they offer long-duration storage and dispatchable power.

Phase Change Materials (PCM): These materials change state (solid to liquid) at specific temperatures, storing and releasing heat in the process. They are versatile, scalable, and offer long-term storage, making them suitable for various applications, from buildings to industrial processes.

Flywheel energy storage: These systems store kinetic energy in spinning rotors, offering fast response times and high efficiency. They are well-suited for short-duration, high-power applications like grid stabilization and microgrids.

Supercapacitors: Similar to batteries, they store electrical energy but deliver it much faster. They are most suited to applications that need frequent charge/discharge cycles and high power bursts, such as electric vehicle acceleration and wind turbine smoothing.

Green hydrogen: Produced through electrolysis using renewable energy, it offers a clean and versatile energy carrier. While storage and transportation challenges remain, advancements in fuel cells and infrastructure make it a promising long-term solutio

How OpenWeather can help 

As we have seen, the growing number of innovative and interconnected energy technologies have a need not just for the renewable resources themselves, but also the information as to when, and how much of a resource can be expected in order to manage supply and demand.

OpenWeather understands this, and have created a number of products that are both versatile and relevant to the energy sector. 

For example, the OpenWeather Solar Irradiance & Energy Prediction service helps solar energy users predict the energy generated by a particular solar panel before installation, or check for potential issues with the existing panels. With the increasing versatility, variety and applications of solar panel installations, understanding the potential energy generation levels for a proposed site can help with planning and financing of the installation. This flexible and accurate service can be used to provide forecast solar irradiance data for the next 15 days, as well as historical data from 1st January 1979.

In addition, the OpenWeather One Call API 3.0 provides nuanced yet easy to use access to essential global weather data, short-term and long-term forecasts and aggregated historical weather data, vital information for any renewable energy installation. 

The One Call API 3.0 offers access to a range of data through three endpoints:

1. Current weather conditions and forecasts:

  • Minute-by-minute forecast for the next hour

  • Hourly forecast spanning 48 hours

  • Daily forecast covering 8 days

  • Government weather alerts

2. Weather data available for any specific timestamp from a historical archive spanning over 40 years, alongside forecasts for the next 4 days.

3. Daily aggregation of weather data from a historical archive spanning over 40 years, along with forecasts extending 1.5 years ahead.

About OpenWeather:

OpenWeather provides weather data for any location on the globe using a proprietary hyperlocal forecasting model with a resolution from 500 m to 2 km, globally. More than 6,000,000 customers from logistics, agriculture, insurance, energy, retail, and many other sectors, are working with the company's weather products. 

OpenWeather cooperates with global meteorological agencies such as MetOffice and NOAA, and enhances its model with data from radars, weather stations and satellites. The company provides great availability of service at 99.9% for enterprise-level products. 

The products can be easily integrated into complex IT systems and are ideal for ML analytic systems. OpenWeather is a member of Royal Meteorological Society and an Achilles-certified supplier. OpenWeather ethical initiatives include support of educators and students, not-for-profit subscriptions for the general public to increase weather awareness, and recent Ukrainian donation programme.

For more information on how to gain access to our OpenWeather products, please email us.

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