Smart Sustainability: IoT Leading the Way


According to Transforma Insights, by 2030 IoT technologies may reduce electricity consumption by 1.6 petawatt-hours (PWh), hydrocarbon fuel usage – by 3.5 PWh, save nearly 230 billion cubic meters of water, and enable one gigatons benefit in CO2 emissions. 
Cost-effective IoT technologies like LoRaWAN and 3GPP-based LPWA are emerging contenders, with LTE-M in the US and LoRaWAN and NB-IoT gaining traction. 
Cellular communications accounted for around 2% of the installed base in North America and Europe, expected to see substantial growth, driven by 3GPP-based LPWA deployments. 

IoT technology, with a particular focus on connectivity, is emerging as a powerful catalyst for sustainability transformation. Research conducted by Gartner, Transforma Insights, Berg Insight, and the US Department of Energy highlights its versatile contributions to environmental conservation. These contributions range from reduced CO2 emissions to water conservation achieved through remote management and analysis. The use of cellular and LPWA communication technologies shows a significant growth, with demonstrated success stories indicating at least a 10% reduction in CO2 emissions. The top-notch companies like Honeywell, Tesla, Schneider Electric are rapidly adopting IoT to their products and services, with one of the reasons behind revenue growth – environmental protection.

How IoT Technologies Help to Reduce Energy Consumption 

According to Transforma Insight, IoT technologies are expected to reduce electricity consumption by an impressive 1.6 petawatt-hours (PWh). To put this into perspective, it's enough electricity to fulfill the energy requirements of over 136.5 million households for an entire year. It's worth noting that while the manufacturing of new IoT technologies may lead to an increase in global electricity use by 34 terawatt-hours (TWh), this will be counterbalanced by the substantial 1.6 PWh of electricity conserved through IoT solutions. The deployment of IoT technology within residential, commercial, and industrial structures provides an opportunity for organizations and individuals to actively monitor energy consumption and set changes aimed at curbing energy demand and enhancing efficiency.

Let’s go through major aspects of electricity efficiency via IoT ecosystem:

Fuel Efficiency and Smart Fleet Management 

In the US alone, on-road vehicles account for nearly 60 percent of total U.S. oil consumption and more than a quarter of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, the major contributor to climate change. IoT's influence extends to fuel consumption, with a projected annual reduction of 3.5 PWh in hydrocarbon fuel usage. Its ability to facilitate real-time data collection and analysis has revolutionized industries like transportation, logistics, and automotive. Predictive maintenance, smart fleet management, and environmental impact reduction are just a few of the benefits IoT connectivity delivers.  

Fleets have a significant motivation to prioritize the fuel efficiency of their vehicles. However, considering that factors such as driver conduct can influence fuel efficiency by a substantial 30 to 60 percent margin, it becomes crucial for fleet managers to possess comprehensive insights into every facet of their fleet's operations.

Learn more about fuel consumption in the research: Fuel Efficiency | Department of Energy 

CO2 Emission Reduction Can Reach 1 Gigaton 

Transforma Insights states that IoT solutions can reduce one gigaton in CO2 emissions. IoT, driven by its connectivity capabilities, specifically cellular connectivity, plays a pivotal role in CO2 reduction through various applications, such as smart buildings, smart parking and logistics, renewable energy, and more. For instance, in mid-sized and large cities, 20% of cars are constantly searching for parking, and it takes an average of 20 minutes for a driver to find a parking spot. The success story with Cocoparks shows that apart of reducing double-parking hazards and congestion minimization, it’s possible to decrease CO2 emissions by 10% via setting special detectors and IoT connectivity. Find more about the results of Cocoparks and 1NCE collaboration in the Cocoparks reference story. 

The scopes of the key IoT devices used for CO2 reduction vary from Tesla vehicle chargers to energy management systems: 

Water Conservation: AMI/AMR, Key Players, and LPWA Technology 

IoT connectivity and emerging technologies are expected to conserve nearly 230 billion cubic meters of water. This conservation effort will be multifaceted, with 35% of the impact arising from improved smart water grid operations. The remaining water savings will be bolstered by IoT-enabled applications in agriculture, including crop management, and remote pest control. 

In the realm of smart metering, there are two basic technologies, specifically for tracking and monitoring resource consumption: Automated Meter Reading (AMR) and Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). AMI solutions address the limitations of AMR by utilizing fixed communication networks. It enables frequent, detailed meter data readings and two-way communication with utilities, offering significant operational efficiency improvements, reduced non-revenue water (NRW), and enhanced water conservation. North America leads in both AMR and AMI adoption, with 76.3 million active water utility endpoints by the end of 2019, representing 73% penetration. Of these, AMI accounted for 32.7 million, or 31% penetration. Europe is the second-largest market, with 56.1 million active water utility endpoints in 2019 and around 39% penetration. While France and Spain historically dominated the European water AMI market, countries like Italy, the UK, and the Benelux are emerging as significant players. 

Various proprietary and open-standard communication technologies are used in water AMI deployments. In North America, proprietary radio frequency (RF) networking platforms dominated, constituting over 97% of AMI endpoints in 2019. Europe had a mix of proprietary RF technologies based on the EN 13757 standard, where Wize is the most deployed. Cost-effective IoT technologies like LoRaWAN and 3GPP-based LPWA are emerging contenders, with LTE-M in the US and LoRaWAN and NB-IoT in Europe gaining traction. Cellular communications accounted for around 2% of the installed base in both regions, expected to see substantial growth, driven by 3GPP-based LPWA deployments. 

Learn more about who are the key players within Europe and the US

Waste Consideration with IoT Connectivity 

The synergy of IoT devices and cellular connectivity is changing various aspects of waste management, from monitoring and collection to processing and disposal. IoT-enabled smart bins equipped with GPS and occupancy sensors can strategically place waste collector bins, optimizing their usage. Sensors capable of identifying the type and characteristics of waste can aid in efficient sorting, especially for recyclable and hazardous materials. Real-time monitoring through cellular connectivity ensures that bins are correctly placed, while IoT also improves optimized waste collection routes, reducing fuel consumption and enhancing citywide cleanliness. Additionally, IoT connectivity contributes to sustainable energy production from waste and monitors processes like composting and landfill operations. 

IoT SIM cards provide seamless integration with smart waste management systems and enable real-time data sharing cellular connectivity crucial for IoT devices and sensors. This allows the systems to operate efficiently and minimize their environmental impact. It is anticipated that cellular LPWA technologies such as NB-IoT and LTE-M will outperform traditional cellular technologies like 2G, 3G, and 4G as the predominant choice for connecting smart waste sensors. Moreover, these LPWA technologies are projected to connect over one million endpoints by 2025. 

The smart waste sensor technology market will grow at a CAGR of 29.8 percent through 2025 (berginsight.com) 

Summing Up 

By 2030, IoT technologies have the capacity to make substantial reductions in electricity consumption, hydrocarbon fuel usage, water conservation, and CO2 emissions. Remote monitoring, simplified logistics and device maintenance as well as new IoT SIM form factors are reducing carbon footprints, while emerging cost-effective IoT technologies such as LPWA are rapidly gaining traction. Therefore, the transformative potential of IoT-connected devices within sustainability is undeniable, and with each year the technology will form a greener future.