The renewables sector continues to grow at a rapid rate. In 2000, renewables accounted for just 2.8 per cent of all electricity in the UK; in 2022, the figure reached 40 per cent. That’s a significant increase that experts predict will continue to grow.
Renewable energy is so important to society – as both a consumer and a worker in the field – because it comes from sources that are replenished naturally rather than depleted when used. We’re becoming more reliant on the sector as the world continues to grapple with global warming.
In the UK, the main renewable energy sources used are wind, solar, hydroelectric and bioenergy.
More career opportunities will become available as the industry continues to expand. The government has ambitious targets, and as such, it needs the right workforce to meet these goals.
For those working in – or studying – the sector, what can they expect? How can they ensure they enjoy the most success in the industry?
Shaun Gray, Commercial Manager at HTL Group, a solutions provider in hydraulic torque wrenches, bolt tensioning, and related bolting services, explores three digital trends that should help people on their way.
Trend 1: Big data and analytics
One trend that is often credited with helping the renewable sector triumph is the use of data and analytics. With this tool, workforces can improve efficiency, reduce costs, and make better decisions that will contribute to more success.
Ways in which big data and analytics are used across the renewables sector can vary but typically include:
Predictive maintenance – This tool has the power to predict when equipment is likely to fail. With this information, staff can arrange maintenance and repairs before they’re faced with problems. As a result, downtime is reduced, and the reliability of renewable energy systems is increased.
Asset optimisation – Big data can improve efficiency and reduce costs by optimising the performance of certain renewable energy features, such as wind turbines and solar panels.
Demand forecasting – To further reduce costs and improve the stability of the grid, demand forecasting with the help of big data and analytics becomes a much simpler process. Big data can be used to forecast demand for renewable energy so that generators can be dispatched more efficiently.
Trend 2: Internet of Things (IoT) Integration
IoT stands for Internet of Things and is a network of physical objects embedded with sensors, software, and network activity that allows them to collect and exchange data.
This type of integration is being used across various sectors, including retail, healthcare, and manufacturing. Here’s how it’s utilised within the renewable energy sector:
Remote monitoring – IoT devices can be used to monitor the performance of wind turbines, solar panels, and other renewable assets. With this data, workforces have the capability to identify and correct any issues before they get worse.
Asset optimisation – With data received from the IoT devices, employees can optimise the performance of the resources to improve effectiveness and bring down costs. One example of this would be adjusting the tilt of solar panels.
Fraud detection – While not as big of a problem in the renewable energy sector as in others, fraud can still occur through over-reporting of generation, bid rigging, and false claims for subsidies. Data collected from IoT devices can be used to detect these types of fraud, consequently protecting the sector.
Trend 3: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning
In a similar way to IoT and big data and analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning is a trend that can help forecast, manage, and improve performance within the sector.
Renewable energy forecasting – to balance out the grid and guarantee there’s always enough power to meet renewable demand, AI is used to predict outputs. The use of this intelligence means more effective management in terms of both performance and expectations.
Energy consumption management – the use of AI can help manage energy consumption through optimising storage, predicting demands, and increasing energy efficiency. As a result, carbon emissions are reduced alongside energy costs.
Preventing blackouts – the world revolves around energy. Without it, we’d face major disruptions to our daily lives. AI can monitor the grid and identify potential problems to prevent a blackout, giving workforces the opportunity to implement preventive measures.
Embrace trends for a lucrative career and business
Embracing digital transformation for a sustainable future is not only in the best interest of the consumers but also the businesses and organisations that are driving these changes.
If you’re hoping to succeed in the renewables sector, whether you’re a graduate looking for your first opportunity, or an experienced engineer looking for your next opportunity, understanding and implementing these trends will help you progress.