Call it what you will — the “industrial internet,” the “internet of things,” or “machine-to-machine communications” (M2M) — the seamless connectivity of devices is becoming one of the core drivers of the clean energy transition.
There are now 1.3 billion M2M devices in operation around the world. By 2020, there will be 12.5 billion in operation. That range of devices, which includes smart phones, advanced electricity meters, GPS devices, and sensors on equipment, has the potential to radically change how we consume and ship goods, operate machinery, and manage energy use.
And this isn’t some techno-blogger fantasy about what the world could be someday. The connectivity revolution is well underway at Ford, UPS, General Electric and almost every other large industrial player looking to make their operations more efficient. Increasing data demands are also changing the telecom world, which is trying to keep up with network integration challenges as ever-more sophisticated devices come online.
As adoption grows, the savings are becoming clear. According to a new analysis from the Carbon War Room on the potential for M2M, these technologies offer nearly as much potential to reduce CO2 emissions as the renewable energy and green building sectors combined.