IEA’s latest dive into digital technology’s value for distributed energy, demand-side flexibility and plug-in vehicles.
The International Energy Agency has released its latest report on “digitalizing” the world’s key industries, with a focus on the electricity sector.
The report includes some long-range projections for how much the world will need to invest in “smart” demand response, renewable energy integration and electric vehicle charging over the next two decades or so — and how many hundreds of billions of dollars that could save us.
Monday’s report, titled Digitalization & Energy, represents ongoing work from the IEA on how digital technologies like networked devices, cloud computing and data analytics are transforming energy-intensive sectors including industry, buildings and transportation.
It also lays out how energy industries such as oil and gas have been leaders in these technologies, and could further increase global reserves by about 5 percent over the span of the study, largely in shale gas.
But the report identifies the electricity sector as the central player in the digital transformation of energy, since it’s interconnected with these different energy sectors. “Together with the progressive electrification of the energy system and the growth of decentralised sources of power, digitalization is blurring the distinction between supply and demand, and creating opportunities for consumers to interact directly in balancing demand with supply in real time,” reads the report.
Buildings use the most electricity, and IEA finds that digitalization could cut their energy use by about 10 percent by using real-time data from smart thermostats and networked lighting to improve operational efficiency, on top of the efficiencies to be gained from LEDs.