Tag Archives: #future

5 Things You Must Know About the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things works as a series of interconnected devices. Everything with a power switch will become a part of the internet. We see communication between cars and appliances, power tools and mp3 players, and alarm clocks and coffee pots – everything becomes connected.

There are plenty of buzzwords in today’s society, but “the internet of things” isn’t one of them. It should be.

The internet of things (IoT) has been a long time coming, it’s here, and it’s growing. It already affects you in ways you might not even know, and it won’t stop. Here is a list of the five things you must know to be an informed member and user of IoT.

1. What is it?                                                                                                             

Kellan Dickens from General Electric says “IoT is a toolkit.”

Brian Dalgetty from IBM says “IoT is just the digitization of the physical world.”

Aleksandar Vukojevic from Duke Energy says “it’s just a bunch of sensors and data.”

If you ask a room of 20 people what IoT is, you’ll get 20 different answers – that’s the unfortunate truth. Plain and simple, IoT is connection between devices.

The devices have sensors in them which allow for a number of tasks. The sensors can measure and provide data about the device. The sensors can also allow for a device to be remotely accessible.

For example, a laundry machine could measure how much water is being used, and at what cost during that time. To conserve resources on a busy night, you could remotely set the machine to wash from work on a smartphone.

Access to the devices’ data coming in from IoT is extremely important too. With this information, individuals can connect to larger circles. In terms of energy, there could be a neighborhood competition to see who uses the least.

Access to the data can also help optimize operations everywhere, increase efficiency, and decrease resource usage. Users will better understand their surroundings, and they can manage their current information more effectively.

2. How does it work?

IoT is enabled by connections between the devices, or machines. The connections between machines are called M2M connections (machine to machine). Information can be sent almost anywhere. If two devices are working together, they may have direct communication between them. Or appliances and electrical systems can send information to a database, or a company’s website.

The information itself may vary in complexity. Some communication could be tiny, like a phone alarm sending a single message to the coffee pot to brew. Other communications could be massive in size and importance, like last month’s fuel efficiency in a vehicle. It’s all about getting devices and data together and facilitating problem solving.

3. Who does it affect?


That is the short answer, and for once the short answer is completely correct. IoT will have its hand in the pocket of every active member of society. From homeowners to college students to entrepreneurs and CEO’s, IoT will change the game.

4. Why is it good?

The executive director of Envision Charlotte, Amy Aussieker, describes the potential for IoT as “a bottomless pit.” There is no doubt about the limitless possibilities in IoT, but the goal is simple. IoT aims to make life easier and enable us to work smarter, not harder.

A weather- and traffic-integrated GPS could allow us more time with the family instead of on the road. IoT can also save us money on our electricity and water bills. We will know our consumption patterns, and be able to change what we want, use less, and be charged less.

Knowledge is power. The physical world becomes digital with IoT. This lets us plug everything into a virtual calculator that, with some working knowledge, can spit out real-life solutions.

5. What are the risks?

With anything so huge and promising, there are comparable risks. IoT involves the creation of lots and lots of data. How to work through all this information and store it and format it usefully will be a challenge in itself.

The quantity of data also poses threats to privacy and security. Individuals and groups may have issues with their data being made public, and see it as an invasion of privacy.

“I don’t care if my neighbor sees how much water my dishwasher uses, but the government probably doesn’t want the world knowing how much money was spent on particular projects here and there,” says Bryan Lampley from Hoffman Building Technologies.

With this privacy threat, it’s easy to worry about the security of data designed to be private from the beginning.

The Internet of Things has come. Know the basics, and you’re ready to go back into the world as an informed member and user of IoT.

Energy in 2050: Chapel Hill’s Predictions

Question: In 2050, what fuel do you think the US will mostly be using for energy?



Nuclear. Because coal and fossil fuel energy resources are unsustainable and I think science can catch up to make nuclear energy safe for the mass population.”



Probably fossil fuels. Probably. I don’t think there’s enough time to switch over. I don’t think people are willing to buy different cars or electric cars, they want their big trucks and other vehicles.”



I would hope that we would move towards more sustainable energy resources, but…considering the results of the 2015 goals set by the United Nations, almost ten years ago, considering how those goals are largely unmet now…I feel like we’ll still be on fossil fuels and dependent upon them for the future.”


In 2050 I would say it’s going to be a combination of multiple energy sources, combination of wind, solar, hydroelectric—I don’t think we do enough of hydroelectric—fossil fuels, probably. Honestly, some things you’re not gonna be able to get away from. But definitely more of renewables.”


I’d say probably not fossil fuels. That certainly doesn’t seem feasible in thirty-five years, or at least not wise… It seems like there’s a lot of progress, especially in biological resources and like waste products with current processes and paper mills and things like that, so maybe there’s a chance to come up with creative solutions that involve potentially renewable resources… A lot of people talk about wind power, but I’m thinking it’s going to be more subtle.”


I would certainly hope it would be wind or solar or hydroelectric something like that, at that point, but I feel like we’ll still be winding down fossil fuels. Hopefully we’ll be at the tail end of it. But I’m not sure which renewable energy source at that point, so I’ll say natural gas or fossil fuels at this point. As kind of a safe guess. But hopefully I’m wrong.”

Vincent Vincent

“I hope it’ll be clean and renewable. I think it will be a mix of clean and still fossil fuels, I don’t know which ones. Natural gas might be on the increase.”




I guess solar energy would probably be used much more than it’s used now and I feel like we’ll have the technology to be able to use it in more areas in our lives.”





Probably the sun. Solar power. It’s gonna be easier to absorb and there’s going to be less problems because everything’s going solar now. At 2050, probably cars going to be solar. Gonna have a big panel on there and it’s gonna be driving by then. It’s a good thing because it’s good for the environment.”

2016-01-26 12.29.36Blake

“I’ve got no clue. I guess I’ll say solar power or something, why not. I guess we’re sort of moving in that direction [renewables]. By 2050, with all the new technology that will come out over the years, it seems like it’s sort of heading that way.”


Mapping Out the Future of the Energy Grid

The next big disruption that threatens the American economic status quo could be grid defection. That is, consumers choosing cheaper alternatives over paying for the utilities of the energy grid.


Solar photovoltaic cells (PV cells) convert sunlight directly into electricity. This electricity can be stored by investing in battery technology. Together, these investments create a path towards grid defection.


Grid defection is predicted to be a growing movement because of its cost and reliability.


This raises the question:


When will you save money by going off grid?


Right now, in Hawaii- according to a Rocky Mount Institute report. And as early as 2025 in New York, Texas and California, they said. By then, they predict tens of millions will benefit from grid defection savings.




What happens until then?


Decay, meaning that revenue will continually decrease from the standard utility grid system.


Conditions for solar PV-battery investments are liable to improve ahead of schedule in some cases. The contributing factors that would lead to that in a population are desires for:

  1. Cleaner energy
  2. A more reliable energy source
  3. Flexibility
  4. Eventual savings


The southwest region is poised for off-grid-savings as early as 10 years out. With that in mind, ‘adapt or die’ is what utility companies should remember. They will need to aim for integration and partnership to maintain their brand.


A grid survival guide:


The cost saving solar-PV-cells and batteries do not necessarily spell the end of the grid. A good outcome for everyone, actually, is integration.


Solar-PV cells and batteries will continue to rise in prevalence. Choices must be made on how to deal with this, and the results will vary.


The grid will die and real defection will occur under certain conditions. Those are business models and regulations that strain exporting solar and solar-battery technology.


In that case, defection would be cheaper for many who could afford the initial investment. The price of staying on-grid, then, would increase anyway. Many low-earners who would be stuck on the grid would see their financial burden increase.


New, disruptive energy resources like Solar-PV cells and batteries must be integrated for grid survival. If their costs and benefits are fairly evaluated, they can become a new foundation.


Their inclusion in the grid system would lower costs across the grid. It would signal a more accessible route to widespread clean energy.


It would also be cheaper for people investing in solar PV-cells and batteries. There would be a gradual shift in energy supply in this model. At first, the traditional electricity sources would supply a majority of energy-yet reversing with time.


Regardless of which route occurs, the future of centralized power sources looks bleak.



Australia Prepares for ‘Inevitable’ Grid Defection. October 16, 2015. Green Tech Media.

Report: ‘Load Defection’ From Customer-Owned Solar and Batteries Is Already Here. April 07, 2015. Green Tech Media.

The Economics of Grid Defection: When and where. 2016. Rocky Mount Institute.

The Economics of Load Defection. 2015. Rocky Mount Institute.

What utilities need to know about load defection. April 12, 2015. Intelligent Utility.

Morgan Stanley: Fixed Charges on Solar May Cause ‘Tipping Point’ for Grid Defection. August 04, 2014. Green Tech Media.

Mapping The End Of Utilities: Where Grid Defection Will Happen Fastest. April 14, 2015. FastCoExist.

ENA Tackles Grid Defection Threat. August 6, 2015. Energy Matters.

How do we promote green building in the cheap energy era? January 5, 2016. Treehugger.

The future of rate design: Why the utility industry may shift away from fixed charges. November 19, 2015. Utility Dive.