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Future of Energy Q3 2023

Decarbonisation drive: how to embrace energy efficiency through digitisation

Green speed light trail on road, renewable energy highway transportation concept, clean eco power car street light at night, electric vehicle technology 3d rendering
Green speed light trail on road, renewable energy highway transportation concept, clean eco power car street light at night, electric vehicle technology 3d rendering
iStock / Getty Images Plus / Black_Kira

David McCormack

Director of Sustainable Manufacturing, Irish Manufacturing Research

As the world prioritises decarbonisation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency emerges as a vital component. Digitisation can revolutionise the energy industry, paving the way to a more sustainable future.


Decarbonisation is now a strategic imperative for companies, and energy efficiency plays a crucial role in these efforts. It means reducing greenhouse gas emissions and combatting the climate crisis while making economic sense; as the saying goes: ‘the cheapest kilowatt is the one you do not use.’ 

In an era of rapid technological advancements, energy efficiency is critical. Our global population and energy consumption rise. To mitigate the climate crisis and resource depletion, we must turn to digitisation as the key to unlocking energy efficiency. 

Digitisation, or ‘digital transformation,’ integrates advanced technologies, data analytics and automation across sectors. Applied to the energy industry, digitisation revolutionises energy production, distribution and consumption. At Irish Manufacturing Research, we focus on three strands of digitisation and energy efficiency: visualisation, optimisation and excellence. 

Visualisation: the baseline to start from 

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and smart devices foster seamless connectivity between energy-consuming devices and central management systems. This enables granular and bottom-up energy monitoring, providing data to stakeholders for informed decisions. 

In an era of rapid technological advancements,
energy efficiency is critical.

Optimisation: increasing efficiencies 

Once you have the data, you can analyse it and identify optimisation opportunities. Digitisation at the factory level enables smart energy management systems with real-time monitoring and data analytics. These unveil energy consumption patterns, inefficiencies and enhancements. Integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning allows predictive analysis, using historical data to self-learn and optimise systems, reducing energy consumption and increasing onsite renewables’ use. 

At the grid level, digitisation enables energy storage, renewable integration, demand response and load management. Algorithms and predictive modelling, for example, can better integrate solar and wind energy into the grid, responding dynamically to weather conditions and demand fluctuations. Digital tech optimises renewable energy storage and distribution, enhancing grid stability and reducing fossil fuel reliance. Real-time communication empowers energy providers with efficient demand response mechanisms and load management, easing grid strain. 

Excellence: streamlined industry standards 

Digitisation streamlines energy audits, reporting and benchmarking against industry standards through automated data collection and analysis. This not only identifies areas for improvement but also nurtures competition and innovation in the quest for greater energy efficiency. 

By embracing digital technologies, we can foster a smarter, more sustainable energy ecosystem that minimises waste, optimises consumption and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Governments, businesses and individuals must embrace and harness digitisation’s transformative power for a sustainable future. 

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