The Internet of Things could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15% in 2030 if its potential is fully used, writes Kevin Williams, CEO of startup Wise Distributed Energy in California.
Last year was the warmest year globally on record, and global temperatures continue to rise because of climate change. By 2050, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 40 to 70 percent below the levels they were at in 2010 to limit global warming by two degrees Celsius according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). If we fail to accomplish this, it could be extremely dangerous for the planet, scientists say.
Famine, disease, mass extinction, and a host of other horrible problems will occur unless we take control of our planet’s climate change issues immediately. This temperature reduction is imperative not just from an environmental standpoint but from an economic one as well; climate change could result in a reduction in $2.5 trillion in value from global assets if the temperature continues to rise.
Fortunately, Interconnected Communication Technology (ICT) such as the Internet of Things (IoT) can account for a 15 percent decrease in emissions from all industry sectors by 2030. There are more than 60 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices and the number continues to grow. In addition, the IoT market is projected to generate more than $14.4 trillion by 2022.
Ways that the IoT limits or reduces climate change
A recent report by Ericcson indicates that the IoT will be responsible for a 63.5 gigaton reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. This will be due in part to opportunities for collaboration between various industries leading to efficiencies that weren’t possible before the rise of the IoT. Some specific examples of how IoT will combat climate change include:
Agriculture – The deployment of sensors to collect and transmit data in agricultural activities will lead to the development of advanced techniques in precision agriculture that limit the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and water. IoT devices will also increase the reliability of weather forecasting processes, thus enabling farmers to make more efficient use of their resources and reduce waste.
Traffic – IoT-enabled apps can help reduce carbon dioxide emissions from cars by helping drivers find parking spaces more quickly and avoid congested roads to reduce the amount of time they spend driving. In addition, a recent project in Los Angeles utilized IoT technology to synchronize traffic lights to enable traffic to flow more smoothly which lowered greenhouse gas emissions and saved more than 35 million gallons of gasoline annually. Finally, IoT-connected trash cans have been implemented to alert collectors when they’re full to make garbage collection more efficient and thus reduce carbon emissions.
Preventing illegal logging and deforestation – IoT-enabled devices are now being implemented to detect and report illegal logging and deforestation activities that contribute to climate change.
Utilities – IoT allows utilities to use a responsive energy network that engages in predictive analytics to match energy generation with demand and that stores excess energy instead of wasting it. Also, smart meters can collect information about a building’s energy usage and communicate that data back to utilities to help them with load balancing which will result in a reduction in waste as well. This can lower the amount of fossil fuels utilities need to use to generate electricity and thus reduces their carbon footprint dramatically.
Energy storage and building automation – IoT-enabled devices can be programmed, monitored, and controlled by an intelligent energy storage system so that they only function and consume power when necessary. These devices can include lightbulbs, thermostats and other home appliances as well as heating and cooling systems in addition to many other loads in residential, commercial, and industrial settings. Smart buildings can also adjust temperature controls automatically depending on changes in weather; dim or turn off lights when nobody is in a room; and immediately alert building engineers when there’s a maintenance issue to reduce costs and waste.
These are just a handful of examples how the IoT will help us resist climate change and lower global temperatures to safe, acceptable levels. It’s extremely important that we accomplish this because the future of our economy, environment, and society is at stake.
Kevin Williams is CEO of Wise Distributed Energy, a firm specializing in intelligent energy storage.