As the energy industry evolves, so does big data. Big data is probably best known for tracking people’s behaviors, purchases and viewpoints, but it can have many other applications.
Now the energy sector is tapping into the resources big data has to offer. From renewable energy to oil, gas and coal, this data science can help many companies maximize profits, reduce costs and even lower risk.
The profit margin is ever present and always shifting in the energy industry. It’s one of the most volatile sectors, averaging a 3.5 percent change daily. Depending on supply and demand, the various markets and currencies involved make revenues a moving target. Big data can help with this.
Producers can anticipate the market using key indicators in real-time and respond immediately. Algorithms can incorporate and evaluate large volumes of information for the utilities and power companies. This allows them to make predictions and chart energy use to make well informed plans.
Big data also improves the monitoring of equipment and its maintenance — preventing a slowing or stoppage in production. For example, British Petroleum (BP)’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster cost the company an $18 billion fine. The company wants to avoid such a disaster and thus they have invested in data to help. More specifically, they created the Center for High- Performance Computing, based in Houston, Texas.
Big data ensures the efficiency of machines. This is done by installing sensors on equipment to monitor its performance. The collected data is then compared to the entire body of data on an ongoing basis — ensuring machines and individual parts are replaced when needed.
Providing better monitoring and oversight through data can enable energy producers to be proactive in the realm of public safety. This will avoid a public relations nightmare that might tarnish a brand and result in lost product.
Collecting data and utilizing data are very different. Making sure useful and applicable data is gathered and then guaranteeing it reaches the right department is key if data is to fulfill its goal of optimizing performance.
Not every piece of data has value, so knowing what is significant and how to store and share it is extremely important.
Moving forward in the global economy, the energy industry needs to make informed decisions to maximize profit while minimizing cost and risks. The oil and gas industries, as well as other power-generation industries, have a need for advanced computer software. It’s believed that within the next 5 years, investment in big data for higher-tech industries such as these will increase from 56 percent to 61 percent.
Photo by William Iven
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