Market Insights

# Mobile Computing Technology to Support Renewables Demand

March 16, 2023 by Chad Hall

## As renewable energy investment and infrastructure grow, the energy sector must use connected, adaptable, and rugged technology to build and service renewable energy deployments.

### Renewable Energy Workforce Challenge

However, renewable energy presents unique challenges for the energy sector. To start, infrastructure, such as wind turbines, takes up a lot of space. The average 2-megawatt wind turbine requires 1.5 acres of land. They can be over 400 feet tall on land and 500 feet tall when offshore, and turbines can have a diameter of over 360 feet. That’s taller than the Statue of Liberty and longer than a football field. At that size, you can’t install a wind turbine in a city or neighborhood. So, most are built offshore or in remote areas to minimize disruption.

##### Wind turbines. Image used courtesy of Pixabay

Similar to other energy sources, renewable infrastructure requires service and maintenance. Keeping with wind turbines, while they may look simple on the outside, inside they have computers and sensors to track energy collection, keep the turbine facing the wind, and monitor for service needs. Utility workers need special technology to run software and data analysis tools to monitor the internal conditions of the turbine and address maintenance issues.

As a result, utility workers can’t use just any laptop or tablet to service this remote and highly technical infrastructure. It may take several hours to travel to a wind or solar farm. And once on location, they often work long shifts in fluctuating weather conditions. Workers don’t have time to return to the office to get a missing blueprint or charge their laptops in the middle of the day. These critical workers need reliable devices that offer the same connectivity, communication, functionality, and accessibility as the computer sitting on a desk in an office.

Considering these challenges, utility workers ask these questions of their technology: Can the solution withstand a drop from an elevated work platform? Does it have long battery life? Can the device support the necessary software? Can I use it in freezing rain or extreme heat without it shutting down? Can I use the screen while wearing gloves? Can I quickly submit information from a remote location and receive feedback in real time from the main office?

Consumer-grade devices rarely meet these requirements, presenting a headache for field service workers and utility teams. While the upfront cost to deploy consumer-grade solutions may be lower, the value quickly diminishes when workers are out of range, out of computing power, in harsh weather conditions, or out of commission due to device failure. However, rugged solutions are now powered with next-gen processors and graphics to boost computing capabilities, shedding the previous notion that they restrict performance. This gives workers the ability to process large amounts of data, images, and video feed in real time. They also have multiple cellular and connectivity options to minimize network disruptions during the maintenance process.

### Rugged Mobile Technology

Investment in renewable energy today doesn’t just help reach 2023 goals and accountability metrics. It pushes our communities, countries, and the global population toward a cleaner, more sustainable energy ecosystem.

The utility industry must equip frontline workers with technology solutions that meet their unique needs—like enhanced connectivity, durability, and modularity. Technology creators must innovate based on these specialized use cases and customer experiences. A partnership between these two industries streamlines the implementation of services, software applications, and hardware needs. With compatible and customizable mobile technology, utility workers will have everything they need to be successful in demanding renewable environments. Incorporating the right mobile technology also lowers long-term costs for utility companies and increases productivity.