One of the most exciting and highly anticipated industries expected to benefit from 5G services is the energy and utility sector.
There are a number of ways in which the technologies introduced by the fifth generation of mobile networks will benefit the energy sector, including both improving profitability for suppliers and increasing accessibility for consumers; but ultimately the most promising advantage is the effect it will have on the environment and our planets resources.
This article will explore some of the use-cases for 5G in the energy sector, including:
The introduction of 5G technology will unleash a new wave of smart grid features and improve efficiency tenfold by allowing many devices that are currently unconnected, to be monitored for their energy usage. This will allow users to better understand their energy consumption, forecast their needs and avoid unnecessary energy usage and additional bills.
On the supplier’s management side, they will be able to predict energy peaks, help to support load balancing and avoid waste, allowing them to improve energy distribution which will ultimately result in reduced cost for consumers.
The ability to capture all of this data using 5G connections will enable larger cities to plan their infrastructure spending accordingly, resulting in less downtime and higher efficiency.
Smart meters work with a smart energy monitor, that you can place anywhere in your home. This will then allow you to view how much energy you’re using and an indication of how much it’s costing you.
Smart meters have already been introduced to many homes around the world using existing telecommunications infrastructure to manage, send and monitor the data they provide. However, with the introduction of 5G, these services will be much more precise, allowing for more data to be sent and received more often, resulting in a lot more detail for the consumer and service provider.
This information will have higher levels of detail with 5G than it does currently, allowing us to view individual items in the home that are using the most electricity and the specific times of day that we incur the most cost.
As with smart meters, remote energy monitoring is not a new feature to existing energy suppliers, however with the introduction of 5G services, the improved speed of service and vastly improved latency will mean higher detail in terms of the information it will gather.
There are many different types of energy producing sites that can be monitored with smart meters such as solar farms, windfarms and power stations.
Using windfarms as our example, here are some of the ways that 5G smart meters will assist service providers:
Remotely monitor health and readiness of the equipment:
Access common parameters such as wind conditions, rotating speed, temperatures, power output etc.
Control and operate the equipment remotely:
Secure and efficient operation of wind farms requires participants to have remote access to components such as sensors, actuators and networking devices (e.g. routers).
Online control, reports and statistics will reduce expensive service visits.
Immediately detect if something is wrong to avoid unnecessary outages.
Manage large-scale fleets and compare different power areas to analyse data and make adjustments accordingly.
After about a decade of research by manufacturers, governments and organisation around the world, driven by both economic and operational considerations, and by environmental concerns, energy efficiency has now become a key factor in the design of communication networks. With the imminent arrival of the fifth generation of wireless networks and with millions more base stations and billions of connected devices, the need for energy-efficient system design and operation will be even more essential.
5G will allow us to have more control over our environment than ever before, particularly when it comes to wasted energy. A great example of this would be smart street lighting, a system which relies entirely on 5G connectivity and remote monitoring via integrated sensors to be able to ‘know’ when pedestrians or vehicles are present and alter the lighting accordingly. This will save power, reduce light pollution and keep people safe.
Not only are the technologies being designed to power 5G infrastructure going to be more cost effective and energy efficient than past generations of wireless networks, but the connected devices themselves will also benefit from a lower requirement of energy.
Huge emphasis is being placed on reducing energy usage around the world and the way 5G will allow us to monitor and capture relevant data in order to do this, will be unparalleled in comparison to our current capabilities.