While we sit here comfortably in front of our devices and under cool air-conditioners, billions of people across the world still do not have access to the basic needs of electricity.
Our energy sector is widely traditional, complex and lacks any major technological innovations. But, all of that is beginning to change. Modern technologies such as IoT and blockchain are being explored for the power industry in varying ways. Also, untapped potential in developing countries is now being recognized and new methods, as well as projects, are lining up.
The Growing Needs for Energy
With the rise in the modernity of our civilization, the need for energy has subsequently increased. The advancing industrialization has also grown the needs for energy consumption at unprecedented levels. Consequently, the growing needs of energy and its negative environmental impact are major concerns for the coming decades.
One of the major concerns for the power sector is the undersupply of energy in developing nations. While the energy consumption levels all over the world are rising, the distribution remains uneven. Access to energy resources is one of the greatest challenges for developing countries.
According to recent research around 1.2 billion people do not have access to modern energy resources. Most of these are accounted from developing countries in Asia, Latin America and parts of Africa. Even with varying needs of energy for different nations, the gap is much wide for poorer countries like Africa.
Lack of Access in Developing Nations
It is estimated that around 2 billion people worldwide do not have access to electrical power, even today. According to a report by UNDP, in developing countries alone 1.5 billion people lack access to electricity. Millions of people in Africa, even today, do not have any means of electricity.
Nigeria, which is bursting with a young population, faces a very acute problem in terms of electrical power. It is estimated that around 20 million households in Nigeria are without power. Despite having large resources of oil, natural gas, and coal, the country is not even close to its potential of producing power.
Natural gas in Nigeria is a powerhouse of opportunity to tap in. The country has nearly 200 Trillion Cubic Feet of natural gas. Additionally, this figure is projected to have a growth rate of 70% by 2025. The utilization of the Natural gas reserves in Nigeria to generate and supply power has an unmatched potential.
Exploring Innovative Solutions
In fact, many companies have already started leveraging this opportunity. Startups have already started pitching in new and innovative models of generating power through the vast resource of natural gas. One of the companies trying an advanced method is Gigajoule. It utilizes fresh and new solutions to develop a Floating Power Plant. A solution powered by modern technologies like blockchain and IoT to generate energy through Natural gas. The economic and environmental features of a Floating power plant are enormous. Moreover, the use of powerful engine turbines like Siemen is the USP for this project.
The concept of Floating Power Plant is not entirely new. However, with new technologies and the easy availability of natural gas, the concept is gaining momentum. The Floating Power Plant (FPP) is a flexible and mobile solution to the traditional land-based power plant. The mobile floating power plant requires considerably less footprint than a land power plant. Additionally, it also takes a shorter lead time for the implementation of the plant. Subsequently, the infrastructure and land costs are also reduced.
IoT and Blockchain Revolution
We are on the brink of a technological revolution. Emerging technologies like IoT and blockchain have already started paving its way through different sectors. One of the industries, which is exploring solutions with IoT and blockchain is the Energy and Power Sector.
A web of IoT smart devices implanted with sensors can be connected to such power plants generating electricity. These devices act as a link between a power plant’s hardware and software systems and also enable collecting and sharing the data produced by the power plant. IoT can be a key enabler to unlocking the prospect of the information that such power plants generate.
With IoT, we can improve the balance between the demand and supply of electricity at different peak periods. This automatically improves the production capacity and energy output of power plants. Additionally, IoT enables efficient production of electricity while reducing downtime, as well as lowering the costs of maintenance. It also reduces the need for human labor by automating operations, lowering the demand for inspections, monitoring grids and collecting data. The next-generation IoT devices help in converting data into actions along with improving efficiency, reducing costs and automating operations.
Blockchain technology is another modern innovation that promises to add value by securely storing real-time data in a distributed network. Blockchain technology is basically a database used for storing information on a decentralized and peer to peer network. This data is protected through cryptographic protocols, thus making it completely secure.
Startup companies have already started investing heavily in the applications of blockchain for energy. The technology opens up new models of conducting business and trading of electricity. Moreover, combining blockchain and IoT opens us entirely new possibilities for the energy sector.
The IoT sensors produce a vast amount of data that gets stored on a centralized cloud. A centralized system makes the data vulnerable to hackers and the entire grid remains exposed. Moreover, cyber-attacks on such power plants can have major power outages, potentially leaving millions of people without power. Blockchain technology provides a safe and secure way of storing all the information, IoT sensors as well as device transaction on a ledger/ database. The data on the ledger is distributed across a network of devices operating on the blockchain. This makes the power grid more resilient while also protecting the data it generates.
Furthermore, blockchain also provides a singular layer for storing information. Hence, each piece of data is in-sync across the platform and among the multiple stakeholders. It provides an integrated infrastructure without the constant need to go back and forth for the information. The transparency of the ledger ensures trust and reliability in its operations. The automated real-time updating of information enables faster and more efficient performance.
With industrialization and an increase in population and economic growth, the needs of developing nations for energy and electricity are bound to increase. The present infrastructure and practices are not sustainable for future growth. Employing innovative solutions such as blockchain and IoT on the already proven concepts like Floating Power Plants (FPP) can bring a new wave of transformation and relief to the developing nations around the World.