IoT, DRL, and the modern tools for energy conservation
Conservation is one of the most powerful tools we can use to meet our future energy needs. Every British thermal unit (Btu) of energy that we forego through conservation represents energy that never needs to be generated using a new power generation facility, helping us save resources and reduce the impact on the environment.
The opportunity to conserve energy for businesses is large. In 2020, industrial and commercial activities accounted for 33.8 quadrillion Btus of energy or 48% of the energy consumed in the US. Transportation accounted for an additional 24 quadrillion Btus, or 35% of total US consumption. This includes transportation activities for both people and goods.
With industrial and commercial activities accounting for such a large percentage of US energy consumption even a 1% reduction in energy usage in business activities would have a large impact.
Image source: US Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review
The opportunities for energy conservation in business are common and often lead to compound benefits. Consider the energy that could be saved by switching from a light bulb that lasts five years to a more efficient bulb that lasts 10 years. In addition to savings found through reduced electricity usage, switching to a more efficient bulb reduces the manufacturing and transportation energy needed to supply replacement bulbs.
Smarter decision making
Many opportunities for energy conservation can be realized through smarter decision making. Consider the case of vehicle fleet management. Designing more optimal routes holds several benefits including reduced miles driven, stops at signals, time spent in traffic, and the number of vehicles needed for routes. These benefits have a direct impact on both energy usage and overall business performance. Further use cases exist in warehouse operations, manufacturing, and logistics to name a few areas.
New tools for energy conservation
Fortunately, new tools can help. Advances in perception and data management have enabled businesses to understand the current state of their operations with unparalleled clarity and find opportunities for improvement. For example, advanced IoT systems enable energy companies to monitor field resources in real time and quickly identify equipment that is running inefficiently.
Advances in algorithms have also pushed the boundaries on what is possible in energy conservation. For example, in manufacturing, deep reinforcement learning is being used to control operations with greater precision and reduce waste from poor product quality. Similar gains can be found in areas such as chemical processing, logistics, and mining.
The possibilities and benefits of energy conservation are great. Contact us to discuss how the latest advancements can help your business to run more efficiently and reduce energy usage.
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