The world’s energy system will be completely transformed by new digital technologies over the next couple of decades, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

In its Digitalization and Energy report, the IEA affirms how technological innovation will have a “profound and lasting impact on both energy demand and supply” making it “more connected, reliable and sustainable”.

Smart grids – the next generation electricity network consisting of controls, computers, automation, and smart devices working together to respond digitally to our quickly changing electric demand – is central to this transformation.

This includes how, globally:

• One billion households and 11 billion smart appliances could participate in interconnected electricity systems by 2040, thanks to smart meters and connected devices.

Demand-side responses – in building, industry and transport – could provide 185 GW of flexibility, and avoid USD 270 billion of investment in new electricity infrastructure.

• With the help of smart meters, smart lighting and other digital tools, buildings could reduce their energy use by 10% by using real-time data to improve operational efficiency.

The IEA also highlights how “massive amounts of data” – amassed largely by increasing installation and use of smart meters around the world – combined with ubiquitous connectivity, and rapid developments in Artificial Intelligence are “enabling new applications and business models across the energy system”, such as autonomous cars and shared mobility, to 3D printing and connected appliances.

Digital transformation is also taking place in how energy is actually produced – most promisingly in renewable generation – through better matching energy demand to solar and wind supplies.

The energy supply industry additionally stands to benefit from digitization, from greater productivity and efficiency to improved safety measures.

The report concludes with ten policy recommendations on how to ensure that this digitally-enhanced energy system follows the most efficient, secure, accessible and sustainable path as possible.

To read about smart metering’s integral role in the digitization of energy, and to find out more about our commitment to delivering the future of smart energy, click here.