How Mobile Apps are Contributing to Clean Energy & Environment

Divya Prabha M.V, Product Manager, Solar MangoCleantech, standing for clean technologies, is perhaps the most important industry in the world today, and yet few people have heard about the term. Cleantech is an umbrella term referring to green and clean technologies. The sector includes clean energy and clean environment sectors such as solar, wind, biofuels, water treatment, energy efficiency, pollution control.

Cleantech reduces emissions, optimizes the consumption of natural resources and results in a cleaner, safer and more sustainable environment. In 2015, the UN set out the new Sustainable Development Goals, highlighting the importance of green, low carbon, and circular economy development. In the same year, emissions-cutting deal at the Paris Climate Change Summit was adopted, setting a foundation for countries to scale up clean technologies.

The development of clean technology is touted as one of the most effective ways to tackle climate change and other environmental issues.

Now, where do mobile apps come in?
While cleantech solutions are a critical need, these solutions have their share of challenges. The convergence of information technology and clean technology is an exciting development that is expected to take care of some of these challenges.

What we have done in this article is to point out some of the key challenges that can be taken care of by mobile apps, and have also provided specific examples of the same.

Cleantech Challenges where Mobile Apps Can Make a Difference
Lack of awareness of cost-benefits associated with clean energy solutions - Customers tend to be sceptical about claims that cleantech products have environmental benefits and cost savings. As a result, decision making is often delayed.

Huge customer acquisition costs for businesses - Customer acquisition costs are extremely high in the case of renewable energy related businesses as it is a new and capital intensive business.

Sub-optimal operation and management of clean energy solutions - Lack of awareness in handling the equipment coupled with inefficient management of the systems end up in stakeholders losing out financial returns.

Inaccuracies while handling a huge amount of data - Be it a solar power plant,
wind turbine or a sewage treatment plant, data entry and documentation associated with it could be cumbersome and prone to errors. Such erroneous data cannot be trusted upon for informed decision making.

Disconnect between utilities / governments with customers/citizens - In most cases, governments or utilities are not able to promote inclusive participation from the public at large.

How can mobile apps help in overcoming the above challenges?
Enabling estimates of costs and benefits from any where - Wind energy production depends on wind characteristics at a location. Previously, investors/developers would go to technical consultants to get a feasibility analysis done with respect to the expected power generation from a particular location. Now apps like Wind Scout that calculates the expected earnings for a wind turbine at a selected location. These apps save time and enable quick decision making.

In 2015, the UN set out new Sustainable Development Goals, highlighting the importance of green, low carbon, and circular economy development. In the same year, emissions-cutting deal at the Paris Climate Change Summit was adopted, setting a foundation for countries to scale up clean technologies

Cutting down customer acquisition costs - During a site visit, a typical sales rep interviews the customer, takes measurements, performs necessary calculations and takes notes. Compare this cumbersome process against sales mobile app like the one offered by Easy Solar which works in sync with a cloud based software. A sales representative creates a module layout directly on a rooftop picture captured during a site visit. The use of a GPS function makes it possible to check solar radiation data for a particular location. The process becomes streamlined, thereby reducing sales cycle and customer acquisition costs.

Increasing productivity through better Operations and Maintenance (O&M)- Water treatment is a tedious and resource intensive process. But there are mobile apps today that make this easier through accurate notifications for the O&M personnel. Apps such as Wateropol is also make the work flow more efficient through the presence of formulas, look-up tables, and calculators for volume conversion, flow conversion, pressure conversion, liquid feed rate, solid chemical dosing, and more.

Ensuring energy efficiency through data analytics - Tracking energy usage is challenging. This is far better managed with a mobile app such as Smappee. Smappee provides information people need to track their energy usage, and understand the costs associated to that usage. All information is provided to users in real time, and the app displays energy costs for the previous 30 days. Users can also control different energy elements from the app, so wherever they are, adjustments are only a few clicks away.

Optimized communication between governments/ utilities and the public - Recently, the Environmental Pollution Authority, introduced the Hawa Badlo App to improve the air quality of Delhi and NCR. The mobile app allows residents to report incidences of air pollution. The application, which also includes a section for officials to resolve cases and upload evidence of work done, enabled active participation from the public to effectively reduce a public menace.

The above examples provide a glimpse of what mobile apps can do for the cleantech sector. The actual scope for mobile technology is more diverse. With the ever improving digital technology, one can clearly infer that mobile apps will play a critical role in the future of cleantech and consequently, in ensuring a clean and sustainable world.