It’s no secret that the world has become much more conscious of energy usage in the past decade or so. There is great potential to continue this trend by incorporating big data into the energy industry. Using big data to “go green” will create a win-win situation in which, not only does the environment benefit, but companies have the opportunity to cut their energy expenses. Commercial buildings developers, in particular, have the opportunity to reduce their energy costs through the implementation of big data. Currently, commercial buildings account for over 40 percent of the total energy usage in the United States, but efforts to fund buildings that are better for the environment aren’t getting the necessary funding right now. This is due to the inefficiencies that arise in identifying the most promising projects. Luckily, big data can reverse this trend. We can quickly and inexpensively analyze projects based on the amount of energy and costs they will save, as well as further potential for energy savings. By comparing these results, companies will have a better idea of which projects to invest in and be able to increase their profits while simultaneously helping the environment.
Big data also has the potential to improve the efficiency of the power grid, saving large amounts of energy. In the United States, the power grid has already been exposed to big data, starting the improvement process. A project known as openPDC is collecting information from the grid- such as voltage, frequency, and location- over a thousand times per second. With such large amounts of statistics, big data is the only system that can process this information. Furthermore, big data uses these figures to produce results showing the consumption, clean power, and energy efficiency for different locations. The transformation is still in the beginning phases but there is extreme potential. When completed, the grid will adjust to understand what services various users require resulting in a much more efficient use of energy.
There is also potential to improve individual consumers’ individual energy usage by implementing big data. Opower is a start-up company based in Washington D.C. and San Francisco that seeks to do just that. It gathers large amounts of data (over 30 terabytes, to be exact) from 50 million energy users. With this information, they can determine how an individual’s energy usage compares to friends, peers, and neighbors. When these individuals are informed of their energy usage, they are able to be more conscious about the energy they consume- especially familiar people are used as benchmarks- and subsequently reduce it.
It will be interesting to see if the two ideas can converge as big data continues to grow and the technology gets greener. Here at CaptainDash, we see huge incentives in the utilization of big data for energy efficiency. It is our hope that in the future companies, especially in the energy industry, will increasingly use big data to help reduce energy waste and keep our planet green.