Tallinn University of Technology

Energy informatics is a new rapidly growing field that focuses on the intersection of energy systems and information technology. This interdisciplinary field encompasses a broad range of topics, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, smart buildings/grids, energy storage, and policy.

energia IT majandus
Photo: Pixabay

Its importance cannot be overstated, as energy is one of the most critical resources that plays a crucial role in the development of our society. Without adequate energy resources, economic growth and human progress would be severely hampered.

The core of energy informatics lies in the application of cutting-edge technologies in conjunction with the development of reliable IT infrastructure. The goal is to optimise the use of energy resources, reduce waste and emissions, and secure a sustainable energy supply for future generations by leveraging information as an enabling resource.

Our society is very much dependent on information, and technologies such as smartphones, smartwatches, and computers have already become an integral part of our daily activities. What and how we consume today is determined by information. Hence, the appropriate combination may have a positive impact of unprecedented magnitude on every person and help to meet the goals for a sustainable future. Energy informatics operates based on the following core principle:

energy + information < energy,

meaning that information or knowledge may help to manage energy more efficiently.

With the increasing demand for energy, the need to reduce carbon emissions, and the shift towards renewable energy sources, energy informatics has become a critical field that can aid in tackling these challenges. Energy informatics has significant implications for different areas of society, including the environment, economics, and security. Doing research in energy informatics can help in the following areas:

  • Energy performance: to improve energy performance and reduce energy waste by using technology and data analysis to monitor and control energy usage.
  • Sustainability: to promote the use of renewable energy sources, which can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change.
  • Energy management: to develop technologies and systems that enable better energy management, such as demand response, energy storage, and energy trading.
  • Energy awareness: to provide real-time feedback/recommendations and insights on energy usage, helping individuals and organisations make informed decisions to improve energy efficiency and reduce waste.

Energy informatics is not just a new field of study – it has the potential to be a significant driver of innovation and growth for decades to come, creating new opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs in the energy sector. This means that there is also a need for more education and training programmes in energy informatics to support the sustainable aftergrowth. That is why universities should now pay significant attention to the development of this new field. Hence, business, research, and education coupled with the strong political support may create a new opportunity for the Estonian economy to become a global technological leader.

In the future, energy informatics is anticipated to retain its essential role in the energy sector. Advances in IoT and edge computing, machine learning and AI, and the integration of electric vehicles into the energy system will drive the growth of energy informatics. The increasing focus on sustainability, decarbonisation, and democratisation will also drive the development of energy informatics solutions that can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote the use of renewable energy sources.

This article emerged from a conversation with Prof. Juri Belikov from the Nonlinear Control Systems Group and Prof. Eduard Petlenkov from the Centre for Intelligent Systems at Tallinn University of Technology. They devoted many years to the development of novel methods and algorithms specifically tailored for the needs of the energy domain with a focus on intelligent buildings and smart grids. This is achieved by fostering interdisciplinary collaboration among diverse research groups. They believe that these activities will ultimately help transition to a reliable, sustainable, low-carbon energy system by developing ICT-based solutions that support the digital transformation of the energy sector.

Juri Belikov
Professor Juri Belikov
Eduard Petlenkov
Professor Eduard Petlenkov