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How digitalisation is transforming the renewable energy industry

Carlo Milone our consultant managing the role
Posted by Carlo Milone
Published on 21 April 2023

New advancements in software and technology are helping revolutionise the renewable energy industry, enabling greater efficiency, storage, generation and consumer engagement. But in the energy market, the benefits being reached go further than just enhancing processes and saving money – they’re life changing. In fact, reports show that digital technology has the power to help slash UK emissions by 78% by 2035, putting us on the front foot in the climate race– and generating new renewable energy jobs in the process.

Why is it important for renewable energy to go digital?

The current energy and cost of living crisis is a stark reminder that fossil fuels are finite, unstable and time is running out to reverse a climate catastrophe. So, there’s great hope that digitalising the energy ecosystem will accelerate the transition from fossil fuel reliant to a green and sustainable world. It will:

  • Afford greater energy efficiency and reduce waste
  • Give us energy sovereignty
  • Save money for consumers and the country
  • Generate more highly skilled renewable energy jobs

The results of a highly digitalised world are hardly more profound than they are for renewable energy. But how are we benefitting from these digital transformations?

It’s changing how we build

Digital twin technology is a hot new development that has got construction and manufacturing industries talking. For renewable energy, planned facility and infrastructure builds and keeping an eye on the health of existing assets can be made simpler by using digital technology. Simply put, these virtual models are designed to accurately reflect the physical object. It uses real-time data sent from sensors on the object to simulate behaviour and monitor operations.

This is vastly speeding up construction times and cutting costs by giving organisations the foresight to put plans in place for potential issues that the models predict. It has been successfully used in the design and construction of wind turbines and repurposing existing oil and gas refineries to produce green hydrogen.

It’s improving consumer experience

After a global spike in energy prices, energy insecurity is a real concern for modern-day households. But some technology advancements are helping consumers take control of the levels of energy they consume and how much money they’re spending.

Smart metres and apps used to control them are becoming hugely popular, benefitting not just the consumer but the company and whole grid networks too. For example, EDF energy has an app that allows end users to monitor their usage and receive personalised tips on how to reduce it.

Together, smart meters and their consumer apps provide the vital building blocks needed to create a greener network and maximise the use of renewable energy sources. Not only do customers get the autonomy to control their energy consumption and bills, but data collected from the smart metres and apps can give an accurate view of the energy being used, where and when. This informs the grid of the energy usage they need so that they can plan to efficiently incorporate higher percentages of renewable energy ahead of time.

It’s changing how we distribute energy

A flexible energy system is important to ensure that there is a constant and reliable supply reaching consumers. When there are surges to the grid, it makes sure that we have enough energy to go round, and when supply diminishes, it makes sure that we are storing the surplus.

A flexible energy system also has the ability to change supply or demand of energy due to a signal (e.g., price) to help manage the electricity system. Up until now, flexibility in energy systems has meant adjusting the supply according to the demand. But now, clever AI technologies are helping the system adjust so that the demand meets the supply. This means using the kinds of energy generated at their most productive times, giving more space to use renewable energies at the height of their generation and creating a greener system. For example, powering a dishwasher during the day using solar power in its abundance.

It’s transforming jobs in the industry

Improving system flexibility alone, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial strategy predicts that 24,000 jobs could be generated in the UK by 2050. The bottom line is, new technologies call for new professions, new skillsets and a new approach to employment, which the renewable energy industry should be ready for.

Traditional renewable energy jobs, such as project managers and commissioning engineers are still in demand, but technology specific jobs that require digital skills are emerging. Data scientists and software engineers, for example, are in great demand to help manage program and software new learning systems and analyse data using complex algorithms based on Artificial Intelligence. And they’re not just important for operations right now, but these roles are laying the foundations for more efficient renewable energy technology and greater innovations for the future.

Speak to Quanta

As the renewable energy industry evolves, so do we. Our dedicated team of renewable energy recruitment consultants have been keenly tracking new developments in the field and harvesting the best talent to meet the modern needs of the sector. Do you have the technical skills and knowledge that could land you an emerging profession in the field? We would love to hear from you. Search our renewable energy jobs or get in contact with one of our team today.