The role of edge computing in the Circular Economy

7 Aprile 2021

Picture by Freepik

After addressing the topic of edge computing by analyzing how it is positioned in the technological and market trends –with particular emphasis on IoT – and having pointed out the differences between fog and edge computing,  let’s try to understand how and if edge computers can be involved in the Circular Economy.

The markets where edge computing is finding more opportunities are Building Automation (with particular regard to energy efficiency), Digital Energy (smart metering, demand side management) and Environmental Monitoring. Without a doubt, edge computing contributes to the general sustainable development goals, contributing also to a more efficient and effective management of natural resources, a common goal with the the Circular Economy’s main target.

The link between Edge computing and Circular Economy is not only generic, but specific.

The European Parliament recent Resolution on the New Circular Economy Action Plan, in line with the sustainability goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement and connected to the EU Green Deal, sets out the path must be followed to promote the circular economy in Europe.

In order to create sustainable and long-lasting products and enable citizens to fully engage in circular economy and benefit form resulting positive changes, the Plan includes a strategic framework featuring several measures to:

  • Ensure sustainable product design
  • Empower consumers
  • Promote the increase of circularity in production processes
  • Reduce waste production

In particular, the Point 3 of the Plan refers to reusable, durable and repairable products and expressly mentions the concept of longer lifetime, with reference to the European Parliament Resolution of July 4, 2017, which aims to promote durable products, combat planned obsolescence and offer a system of consumer protections. Durability, interoperability, modular construction, upgradeability are some of the points emphasized by the Commission and have always been the hallmark of Tera devices. All Tera IoT edge computers are designed taking into account some aspects of “eco-design” in line with the emerging approach of sustainability. They are characterized by:

  • Interchangeability of components,
  • thanks to external “expansion modules” communicating via free standard open protocols (e.g. Modbus), which are freely available on the market;
  • Durability and security updates
  • which are necessary aspects to the proper functioning of both software and hardware;
  • Reversibility of software updates;
  • Interchangeability and replaceability of components
  • , such as the processor board and backup batteries.

 With Linux and more than 10 communication protocols, Tera edge computers ensure highest flexibility, modularity and scalability. Installed on site and remotely monitored, they provide real-time knowledge of the fundamental parameters for any asset management, thus positively affecting costs and business performance. Focusing on the objectives of effective and efficient management of resources, in particular energy resources, companies can fulfill the obligations of energy diagnosis and monitoring and carry out preventive maintenance of industrial machinery to act before any overloads or devices damage occurr.

Tera edge computers also read the energy consumption directly from the Power Line Communication, both in A and C band, and in case of photovoltaic system they read also the values of energy production reporting the values in € and kWh on the App, or control energy flows for DemandResponse systems (UVAM on small PV+Battery systems, Energy Communities). This means they are able to monitor and manage the bidirectional energy flows of battery inverters and other electrical equipments and loads, also in retrofit, to maximize the self-consumption. Thanks to their open approach, it is possible to associate Tera edge computers with other multi-brand devices (sensors/actuators) and software (both applications and IoT platform and edge computing), freeing the customer from the vendor-lock-in system and fostering a more targeted and customized solution.

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