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How Embedded Engineering is meeting the challenges of the Energy Crisis


20th December - Valencia.


The impact of global energy supply shortage

The global energy crisis has revealed our over-reliance on fossil fuels and the need to transform the grid to better support the transition to renewables. Homes and businesses also need to shift to more sustainable options.

Energy prices have doubled since last year, with some countries seeing the highest energy prices in history. It is becoming increasingly expensive for consumers to heat their homes and for businesses to heat their buildings, especially in colder months. Moreover, mounting fuel costs are causing electronics companies to scale back capital expansion plans. Those costs further squeeze profitability at companies and force additional cost-cutting measures. The electronics industry has also been under pressure for months particularly against the backdrop of war, global semiconductor shortages, the pandemic and lack of quality engineering skills.


So how can the Embedded engineering meet these challenges?

Christian Reinwald, Head of Marketing and Product Management at reichelt elektronik says, "People are not just asking for solutions to cope with the emergency. We are seeing increased consumer awareness of investments in products that leverage energy savings that can pay for themselves in a relatively short time."

He believes that now is the time for an additional push to make household and medical devices smarter with technology to enable more time saving and increased energy efficiency.


IoT in the energy sector

Embedded Systems play a major part in developing solutions for energy efficiencies. Today we are already seeing IoT applications feature widely and prominently in various subsystems of the global energy sector - smart grids, smart monitoring, predictive maintenance, smart cities, smart factories, smart homes, intelligent transport etc. - all these IoT subsystems are designed to maximise efficiency. Energy monitoring allows us to obtain granular analytics from every step along the way, checking for performance and efficiency metrics and isolating the most high-yield areas for interventions targeted at increasing energy efficiency. 


Connected LED Lighting systems

Signify’s IoT specialist Jonathan Weinert  believes that connected LED lighting systems with embedded sensors can render buildings, which generate 40% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, far more energy-efficient. 

Occupancy sensors integrated into a connected lighting system can autonomously dim rooms and other spaces when unoccupied and illuminate them when people are present, providing a new degree of control over electricity use: gone are lighting regimes in which lights are either totally on or totally off, and often illuminate empty spaces full time or for a fixed amount of time. 

As in the smart city and micro grids, connected lighting systems can serve as a foundation on which to build a smart ecosystem. As lighting must be installed wherever people go in a building, regardless of any other services or amenities. Connected lighting systems can integrate with other systems in a building to create synergies that deliver additional value offering immediate reductions in energy consumption, and therefore a positive impact on energy budgets.


Use of AI and bringing it to the Grid Edge

The increasing use of electric vehicles and renewables, fluctuating power sources, such as wind and solar energy, has made it more challenging to forecast the demand and likely energy prices. AI algorithms (such as machine learning and deep learning) enable valuable insights that can provide Energy providers and regulators make more accurate forecasts, advanced scenarios, and stronger energy policies. David Wallerstein and Philippe Benoit   state embedded AI solutions will provide more resilient energy strategies, save money, reduce emissions, and improve safety for companies and their customers through sophisticated intelligence.

Transmission of large amounts of data via the Cloud consumes a lot of energy and wastage which in turn can contribute to the energy scarcity problems. In order to bring much needed safeguards and efficiencies, companies are looking at ways to bring embedded AI to the Grid Edge.

 “Bringing AI to grid edge operations will increase resiliency and reduce energy consumption and costs to consumers through new capabilities in smart metres.” So says Marc Spieler Head of Global Energy Business Development at NVIDIA.

Already Utilidata have announced that it is working with NVIDIA to develop a software-defined smart grid chip to embed in smart meters. This new approach will enhance grid resiliency, integrate distributed energy resources like solar and electric vehicles (EVs), and accelerate the transition to a decarbonized grid.


Power Management

The way power is managed plays a major role in the design of any embedded system as it has a direct impact on battery life, performance, size and cost of the product and will have implications for energy savings.


Component manufacturers are focusing on making smarter chips with lower power consumption and better functionalities. Power management architecture can be used along with use of proximity sensors to reduce battery consumption. Intelligent techniques and customised algorithms can also be designed to manage power consumption of embedded systems, using microcontrollers with on-chip peripherals.

The new development of ultra-low power consuming electronics is also creating a possibility of receiving energy for their operation from the environment, reducing costs for energy.  


Use of Nanomaterials in Energy storage

Lithium ion batteries are one of the most used energy storage systems which are neither user friendly or sustainable, and are a hindrance to developing electronic devices for next-generation applications. Developing a new type of flexible energy storage system is a must. According to research new breakthroughs in materials chemistry has found conductive nanomaterials have been extensively incorporated with different substrates in the design and fabrication of energy storage devices for enhancing the performance and reducing power consumption of hybrid materials.

Smarter development of embedded systems will continue to optimise energy efficiency, reduce waste and cost in building a greener, more sustainable future, which goes some way towards meeting the challenges of the energy crisis.


Requirement for highly skilled engineers

With so much technological change across so many international industries the appetite for talented embedded engineers has never been fiercer to meet the challenge of the energy crisis. Yet the global skills shortage has resulted in projects being delayed or in some cases cancelled. It requires experts such as CIS, with over 20 years’ experience in finding and placing highly skilled engineers to ensure that flexible arrangements can be made for onsite, hybrid or remote working to ensure development of new energy saving electronics. Make sure your next project is covered, contact CIS on info@cis-ee.com or +34 963 943 500.