Initiating intelligent energy through ICT

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Technology can enable greater sustainability, efficiency and productivity in the energy sector, writes Alaa Elshimy, MD & SVP, Huawei Enterprise Business Group, Middle East

Innovation, particularly in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector, is redefining energy. Solutions based on 5G, artificial intelligence (AD, cloud, and other new technologies are transforming the energy industry from the digital era into the intelligent one, enabling greater productivity, more efficiency, and many other benefits — such as increased sustainability.

Energy has been at the core of human development since our ancestors first harnessed the power of fire. The large-scale introduction of electricity to global society in the 19th century prompted humanity to move forward into the second industrial revolution.

Nuclear energy initiated the third industrial revolution in the second half of the 20th century, which saw the beginning of the electronic age as telecommunications, computers, automatons and robots rose in prominence, in turn contributing to the evolution of space research, biotechnology, and paving the way towards today’s digital era.

We are now in the throes of the fourth industrial revolution, in which technology provides the means for ubiquitous connectivity. This is the internet of things (IoT), which is further empowered by technologies such as 5G, AI and cloud. Just as energy has had a key role to play in streamlining industry – and in the creation of the ICT sector — the ICT sector is now in a position to return the favour, so to speak, by implementing smart solutions that enable greater sustainability, efficiency and productivity throughout the energy industry. Our goal, now, is to fuel digital transformation of all industries and build the foundation for the future digital world. A key step towards this is to make intelligent energy a reality.

An example of this comes from the deployment of 5G networks, which operate differently to their predecessors; they use high-frequency bands and have small coverage. This means that a higher base station density is required than with 4G and earlier network generations. Limited space for the multiple sites required has become a restriction in the fast deployment of 5G networks.

To overcome this, Huawei has developed a solution for building 5G base stations on substations, enabling energy suppliers, tower providers, and carriers alike to benefit by sharing infrastructure resources. Energy suppliers provide physical bases for substations, which carriers can use to deploy 5G base stations. Carriers lease substation cabinets and power supply from energy providers to ensure uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for 5G base stations. Huawei’s 5G antenna technology enables tower providers to utilise and integrate their tower resources by mounting multiple types of antennas onto one mono-pole tower.
A base station of this kind was successfully deployed by China Unicom Nanjing in 2019, which saw a construction period of what would typically be 30 days reduced to just one day. This significantly shorter period led to lowered costs, plus savings in terms of pipelines, transmision, power, and land. The latter was reduced by 840,000 square meters, equivalent to 117 football courts. Additionally, 420,000 tons of steel were saved. In total, the solution cost US$1.3 billion less than a traditional deployment – thanks to ICT innovation.

The above is just one example of how the ICT sector and the energy sector can collaborate to increase efficiency and sustainability. The ultra-reliable, low-latency communication feature of 5G networks has enabled autonomous driving of mining trucks and remote control of excavators at mining sites, reducing manual operations and enabling smart mining. 5G’s enhanced mobile broadband feature enables mining companies to conduct AI-based analytics for a large number of on-site videos, thereby facilitating more precise and efficient mining.

Elshimy: With the combined expertise of the ICT and energy sectors,
innovation knows no bounds.

Intelligent power transmission platforms, which integrate front-end reasoning, cloud-based training, and cloud-edge synergy into pole and tower monitoring units, can perform intelligent analyses, working with the cloud to update detection algorithms in real time. They can automatically monitor and transmit potential hazards, such as bird nests on the lines or mechanical intrusions, to operating crews without manual assistance, so that efficiencies are increased five-fold and secure, stable power line operation is ensured.

With the combined expertise of the ICT and energy sectors, innovation knows no bounds.
The above-mentioned examples are just a handful of existing solutions that are propelling the intelligent energy era. Many more exist, and even more are still under development as technologies continue to evolve and adapt to the needs of the world around us.

This is just the beginning of a new stage of development for the energy sector, as it evolves towards a more sustainable, efficient, smarter future, enabled by ICT.

Source: Network Middle East Magazine