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Africa|Business|DIGITALISATION|Energy|Generator|Generators|Power|Resources|Solar|Systems|Technology|Solutions|Environmental|Operations
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IoT can help businesses, households streamline energy consumption – Vodacom Business subsidiary

11th August 2023

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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While the Internet of Things (IoT) is well known for its capabilities in bridging the physical and digital worlds and improving the running of industry and homes, its capacity for energy optimisation can be impactful for South Africa, says Vodacom Business subsidiary IoT.nxt chief product and marketing officer Lazo Karapanagiotidis.

Home and business owners are seeking out smarter ways to use, and save, energy, as persistent loadshedding, which is costing the economy about R899-million each day and significantly weighing on business across the country, has forced South Africans to find alternative energy sources.

IoT technology, however, can offer an effective and streamlined way to optimise energy consumption, saving on vital resources and protecting backup generation systems, with further investment in IoT technology bringing enhanced value to South African businesses.

It can help balance the use of different power sources, including solar, grid and generator power, monitor essential items and assist with energy cost-saving initiatives.

“[Worldwide,] increased adoption of fifth-generation networks is driving the need for faster, decentralised and real-time feedback, particularly for organisations promoting the digitalisation agenda.

“Although energy management is a hot topic across the globe, the critical nature of the energy crisis in South Africa makes this application especially prevalent,” says Karapanagiotidis.

The already rapidly growing solar energy market is expected to increase by 23.31 terawatt-hour units from 2021 to 2026, with the growth momentum accelerating at a compound annual growth rate of 29.74%.

The use of diesel-powered generators has also increased, offering lower startup costs but higher ongoing expenses, he said, pointing out that South Africa now has the largest per capita backup generators in Africa, accounting for about 2.1 backup generators per 100 people in 2019.

“While both [solar and diesel-powered generator] solutions are necessary for business to continue as usual, organisations are in desperate need of energy management tools. This is where the value of IoT solutions becomes clear.”

Managing energy consumption involves balancing several sources of energy, which include solar, grid and generator power, to optimise spend and maintain consistent uptime.

“This means turning off nonessential assets, such as air conditioners, when they are not needed and balancing battery power with on-grid energy consumption and diesel to ensure an efficient mix. Rather than manually turning off nonessential assets, IoT technology can do this automatically, or enable users to do this remotely,” Karapanagiotidis highlights.

IoT technology can also help monitor essential items, such as tracking battery and diesel levels, switching between different sources and alerting to instances when one or the other is running low, ensuring business continuity.

“Having the ability to manage these levels off site is essential, especially for businesses with facilities in remote areas as every minute of over- or underuse has a cost or revenue association.”

Additionally, IoT solutions and insights can help companies ensure that office space is used efficiently, while real-time monitoring of assets in conjunction with planned loadshedding enables smarter remote monitoring of business operations through key alerts and outcomes.

Meanwhile, the increased use of diesel-run generators – as solar and grid power alone is simply not sufficient to run high-demand facilities – has a negative environmental impact, which, in turn, can impact on businesses’ environmental, social and governance agendas and goals.

However, IoT technology, optimising how different power sources are used, can help businesses minimise diesel use.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

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