Application fields and relevance of mobile applications in the energy industry

Our society and economy depend on a permanent and reliable energy supply. Therefore, this represents a critical application, which requires a secure communication. In the recent decades, mobile communications have gained a lot of importance, not only in the private sector, but also in the industry. Mobile applications allow for data acquisition, digitization, and automation of industrial processes. The energy industry also benefits from this.

Mobile communications enable the digitization, including of power grids, and thus are significantly pushing the energy revolution onwards. In machine networks, in the industrial Internet of Things, devices can communicate autonomously, without manual intervention. This M2M communication allows a connection between various elements of a power grid. Thus, an automatic monitoring and control of the same device is possible on the basis of mobile communications.

The implementation of such smart technologies, known as smart energy, allows for an optimization of the value chain in the energy industry. The fields of smart metering and smart grids have a significant growth potential in particular.

In the following, we will clarify the development potential of the energy industry, which is associated with the spread of the new mobile communications standard 5G, as well as three specific application examples of mobile communications technology in the energy industry.

What are the changes in the energy industry that the new mobile communications standard 5G will bring?

A successful energy transition in Germany requires the integration of many small and decentralized plants into the existent energy infrastructure. Such a supply structure requires a great deal of flexibility. The expansion of the 5G network should guarantee this, by allowing for the storage and on-demand distribution of energy.

When it comes to renewable energies in particular, the load balancing for the fluctuating supply must be guaranteed for optimal use. This could be achieved through the networking of an almost unlimited number of devices via the Internet of Things, which is made possible by the new mobile communications standard (massive Machine Type Communication). Thus, 5G could replace the connection of systems and devices via cables, and the accompanying rigid information flows. This could create a flexible and open communication structure.

All these applications and the potential of the new mobile communications standard for the energy industry are also currently being researched by the “National 5G Energy Hub” project, consisting of Telekom, Ericsson, TU Dresden and RWTH Aachen.

Application example: Smart metering

One of the application areas for mobile communications, which currently shows a very strong growth, is intelligent metering, also known as smart metering. Hereby, intelligent electricity meters, the smart meters, are connected to the Internet of Things via the mobile network. Then, consumption-related data can be automatically and regularly transmitted to the energy provider. Therefore, manual reading is no longer necessary. Thus, suppliers can save resources, and customers are also spared from the time-consuming process of making appointments and the actual visits for meter reading.

The government has also recognized the potential of smart metering: the 2016 Act on the Digitization of the Energy Revolution has provisions regarding the Smart Meter Roll-out, i.e. mandatory installation of smart metering systems under specific conditions. What’s more: when installing such measuring devices and systems, we can support you with our network testers, which will allow you to avoid signal interruptions and expensive second visits as a result.

Application example: Smart mobility

Mobile communications could also play a significant role when it comes to the further development of the transportation system, acting as an enabler for the field of smart mobility. The new mobile communications standard 5G in particular could play a key role when it comes to increasing the energy efficiency in the field of mobility. The short latency times could play here a particularly important role, enabling, among other things, the exchange of real-time information on the current traffic situation, a control of the relevant infrastructure, and thus also an intelligent route planning and optimization. Ultimately, 5G could help minimize energy consumption in road traffic and thus reduce the resulting emissions.

Mobile communications can also be used when it comes to the charging process of electric vehicles. Smart charging stations are connected to the Internet via the wireless network. For example, the data regarding the charging process could be digitally collected, transmitted to a phone app, and visualized at any time. Further options include protecting one’s own charging station against third-party use with the help of a smart identification process, or equipping public stations with automatic payment processes.

Application example: Smartgrids

The concept of smart grid refers to an intelligent power grid, which distributes (renewable) energy individually to customers as needed, and makes it available exactly where it is required. This allows for the implementation of a climate-friendly and simultaneously efficient, secure, and flexible energy supply, for both the industry and the private sector.

As with the previous applications, smart grids are based on the technology of the Internet of Things. Thus, communication takes place with the help of mobile technology. A wide range of energy sources, consumption sites, storage facilities and many other aspects related to energy management are connected in a smart power grid. The photovoltaic system on a private house, for example, can be just as much part of a smart grid, as a large offshore wind farm located in the North Sea.

The above-mentioned smart grid is also an important component of the smart metering system. Smart meters can determine the precise electricity consumptions and monitor the progress of energy consumption and costs. Thus, they represent the basis of a flexible supply system.

Are you planning on installing new devices for mobile communications (2G/3G/4G/5G/LoRaWAN, wM-BUS/LTE-M/NB-IoT) or do you want to upgrade your existing infrastructure to the new standards? Our network testers for mobile communications can be of help! Feel free to visit our online shop, write us an e-mail in case of further questions, or call us at +49 40 35 73 20 65 !

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