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Energy sector among fastest growing for digital twin adoption

According to Vantage Market Research, the global digital twin market will be valued at an estimated $139.93 billion by 2030. But why is this important to the energy sector?

This growth represents a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 41.90% from 2023 to 2030.

Vantage says the digital twin market is experiencing a transformative surge, “rewriting the boundaries between the physical and digital realms.”

The researchers list the energy sector as one of the top four fastest-growing segments in this market.

“Imagine a virtual replica of your car, continuously learning and adapting alongside its real-world counterpart.

“This, in essence, is the power of digital twins, a technology revolutionising industries from manufacturing and healthcare to smart cities and energy grids.”

An increasing demand for operational efficiency, predictive maintenance, and data-driven decision-making is fuelling this projected trajectory.

Dwibin Thomas, Cluster Automation Leader at Schneider Electric, highlights two versions pertinent to the power and grid industry:

1. Asset digital twins
Here digital twins can model the performance of power equipment such as a transformer, generator, or protection device.

2. System digital twins
In this version, it can also be used to model systems such as electrical networks, power plants, cable systems or complete substations.

What is a digital twin?

IBM defines a digital twin as a virtual model designed to accurately reflect a physical object.

“The [physical] object being studied – for example, a wind turbine – is outfitted with various sensors related to vital areas of functionality.

“These sensors produce data about different aspects of the physical object’s performance, such as energy output, temperature, weather conditions and more.

“This data is then relayed to a processing system and applied to the digital copy.”

IBM said that once informed with such data, the virtual model can be used to run simulations, study performance issues and generate possible improvements. The goal is to generate valuable insights – which can then be applied back to the original physical object.

“Large engines – including jet engines, locomotive engines and power-generation turbines – benefit tremendously from the use of digital twins, especially for helping to establish timeframes for regularly needed maintenance.”

Pros and cons of digital twinning

Vantage believes that as organisations grapple with complex systems and interconnected environments, digital twins offer a potent solution for real-time monitoring, predictive analytics, and optimised performance.

It says several key dynamics fuel the digital twin market.

“The growing demand for real-time insights into asset performance and the rise of Industry 4.0 are driving the adoption of digital twins across manufacturing, healthcare, and infrastructure sectors.

“Additionally, the integration of artificial intelligence and IoT technologies further propels the market forward. Organisations are increasingly recognising the transformative potential of digital twins in predictive maintenance, reducing downtime, and improving overall operational efficiency.”

North America currently holds the largest market share, driven by early adoption and mature technological infrastructure, Vantage points out.

“Healthcare and manufacturing are expected to be the fastest-growing segments, followed by smart cities and energy.”

But despite the immense potential, the digital twin market faces its share of challenges.

“Data security and privacy concerns remain paramount, as digital twins often hold sensitive information about physical assets and processes.

“Additionally, the complex interplay of technologies and the lack of standardised protocols can pose integration hurdles. The initial investment required to implement and maintain digital twin systems can also be a barrier for some organisations.”

However, the challenges also present lucrative opportunities for businesses that can navigate them effectively.

“Investing in robust cybersecurity measures and fostering trust with stakeholders will be crucial. Standardised data formats and open-source platforms can facilitate broader adoption and accelerate innovation.

“Moreover, demonstrating the tangible ROI of digital twins through pilot projects and case studies will be key to convincing hesitant organisations.”

Manufacturing sector in emerging economies could benefit

As for emerging markets, like Africa, the widespread adoption of digital twins could drive significant benefits.

It could see increased productivity and embedding resilient, low-carbon solutions in manufacturing.

This is the opinion of Colin Earp, KPMG’s global digital infrastructure leader and Peter El Hajj, the digital twins lead for the net-zero urban programme at KPMG in the UK

Writing for DEVEX, the pair said digital twins enable markets to narrow technical capability gaps and allow the prototyping of new manufacturing solutions before making investments into assets, equipment, and personnel.

“The savings include more efficient use of materials, improved maintenance, greater energy efficiency, and improved life-cycle management of assets.”

They said that digital twins can also make assets and operations more resilient in the face of market uncertainty, providing operational flexibility and encouraging system digitisation and integration.

“Perhaps most importantly, digital twin adoption will allow emerging markets to remain integrated within global value chains.

“The reality is that global organisations are using digital twins to monitor and manage their supply chains and optimise their carbon footprints.

“They increasingly expect their partners to be able to link into their ‘systems of systems’ with reliable and relevant data. Those unable to meet their expectations may find themselves shut out of the global marketplace with long-term implications.” ESI

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ESI Africa
Content Team
ESI Africa is the global leader in disseminating African utility, energy, power, mobility and water market news and insights. We provide over 50,000 professionals with renowned high quality and insightful editorial, equipping them with essential information to drive their own businesses.
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