Digital twins could be a savior in the energy sector

Energy professionals are constantly looking for innovative ways to solve challenges related to sustainability, efficiency, and governance. This is especially important at a time when global conflicts are affecting energy industries. In addition, the demand for data centers has recently increased due to the ever-increasing use of artificial intelligence. The implementation of digital twins is one solution to these problems.

Their ability to deliver real-time insights and optimize operations could be key to overcoming the most pressing challenges. The sector is at a crossroads due to an expected energy capacity shortage and current societal, governmental, and climate pressures, and digital twins could provide a holistic response.

Growing need for digitalization

The energy sector is under enormous pressure to decarbonize and achieve sustainability goals while improving margins and reducing costs. This challenge stems from the need to modernize aging infrastructure and integrate renewable energy sources. The current state of energy systems includes slow, siloed analysis of industrial processes, which impedes efficiency and response.

One of the biggest obstacles is the aging infrastructure of the U.S. electric grid. Unlike other parts of the world that are keeping up with modern digitalization trends, the U.S. grid remains outdated. Without significant upgrades, more frequent power outages and disruptions are expected, posing a major threat to the country’s decarbonization efforts.

However, replacing an entirely new electrical grid is a major undertaking. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the annual investment required to replace the electrical grid would have to double to over 600 billion dollars by 2030. Furthermore, building completely new infrastructure would contribute to further emissions, as the construction sector is already responsible for them at least 50% climate change in the world.

Despite this urgent need, investment has remained relatively unchanged, with numerous applications for funding for renewable energy projects stalled, waiting for approval to connect to the grid.

In this context, digitalization emerges as a key strategy. Adopting advanced digital technologies would enable the energy sector to increase its ability to evaluate and manage its architecture at lower costs.

Digital twins open up new possibilities

Digital twins offer a promising solution, allowing the energy sector to solve the most unique challenges with easy implementation and cost-effective features. These virtual replicas of physical assets enable real-time insight into operational and compliance challenges. Adopting digital twins allows professionals to monitor and manage their assets with a level of detail and precision that was previously unattainable.

Technological advances and 3D rendering

Recent technological improvements have made digital twin implementation more accessible and cost-effective. As a result, the market is expected to grow at a rate Compound annual growth rate 37.4% over the next seven years. With easier access to these technologies, energy professionals can benefit from today’s digital twin capabilities.

One of these advances includes 3D rendering capabilitiesthat enable energy companies to visualize their systems in detail. This visualization dynamically creates a virtual representation of the plant and its processes. It can reflect changes and conditions in real time, providing professionals with a detailed overview. As a result, companies can support better decision-making and effective management of complex systems.

Real-time visibility and risk management

Digital twins offer real-time insight into energy operations. This increased visibility is key to identifying potential risks and implementing intelligent mitigation strategies. Continuous monitoring of system performance and environmental conditions helps digital twins predict failures and optimize maintenance schedules.

This allows energy companies to reduce downtime and increase operational efficiency. Because it includes advanced analytics and modeling, it can reduce electricity demand by 31% without a decline in production in all sectors of the economy.

Handling diverse data sets

Digital twins excel at processing structured and unstructured data sets. They integrate disparate data streams—from traditional numerical information to 3D spatial documents and drawings—into a unified model. This integration provides a holistic view of system performance and health, allowing operators to identify areas that require attention.

Modernizing the network and improving transparency

Digital twins simulate and analyze different scenarios to provide valuable insights into what might fail or need to be replaced. Their predictive capabilities fundamentally modernize the grid, providing clarity on what needs to be prioritized without the need for extensive physical overhauls. As a result, utilities can maintain and improve their infrastructure, ensuring reliability and efficiency.

Unlocking Value with Digital Twins

Digital twins are revolutionizing the way energy professionals manage and optimize their operations. These virtual models significantly increase operational and financial efficiency by providing real-time insights.

Streamline operations and maintenance

Energy companies initially consider plant design and operational optimization when integrating digital twins. Digital twins can provide greater visibility and control through predictive analytics when configured correctly. Professionals can identify potential issues, ensuring the plant is continuously operating at optimal levels.

Reducing production costs

Digital twins minimize unexpected failures and maximize equipment life through continuous optimization. Greater efficiency leads to greater cost savings as companies use resources more efficiently and reduce downtime.

Increasing financing and investment

A reliable digital twin carries lower financial and investment risk. Investors and financial institutions are more likely to support projects that demonstrate high operational transparency and predictability.

Digital twins do this by simulating real-world conditions and outcomes, making it easier to predict performance and return on investment. This reliability puts energy projects in a better position to secure favorable financing rates and attract investment.

Accessible insights with customizable dashboards

Digital twins offer energy professionals easy access to key insights through curated, customizable dashboards. They provide a user-friendly interface that consolidates data from multiple sources.

It then presents them in a format that is easy to understand and act on. Professionals can customize these dashboards to focus on the most important metrics and alerts, streamlining decision-making for leaders.

Internal and external audit

Energy professionals can also use digital twins for auditing by contrasting existing events with model responses. This capability is invaluable for internal and external audits, providing a detailed record of system operations and responses.

Auditors can compare actual performance data with forecasts, identifying gaps and areas for improvement. This allows utilities to increase regulatory compliance and operational accountability.

Digital twins offer a sustainable energy future

Digital twins have the potential to revolutionize the energy sector, offering unprecedented benefits in terms of sustainability, efficiency, and operational transparency. From real-time monitoring to predictive maintenance, they reduce costs and ensure continuous project delivery. As the industry faces increasing pressure to decarbonize, investing in digital twin technologies will be critical to driving change toward a sustainable future