Renewable Energy in Structural Health Monitoring: A Sustainable Path Forward

The adoption of renewable energy in infrastructure development is a necessity, aligning with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) and Goal 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure). As governments, communities, and citizens strive to reduce our carbon footprints, they leverage solar, wind, offshore, nuclear, and hydroelectric power development projects to meet these global goals. This development extends beyond power generation; it includes using clean energy to build new infrastructure in the transportation sector, public buildings, and even urban planning, essential in minimizing environmental impact and building resilient, eco-friendly infrastructure.



Importance of SHM in Construction and Maintaining Aging Infrastructure


Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) is crucial in the construction industry, particularly for maintaining aging infrastructure. It resonates with the SDGs’ focus on sustainable cities and communities (Goal 11) and Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure (Goal 9).  As buildings, bridges, and other structures age, they are subjected to various stresses and environmental factors that can compromise their integrity. SHM plays a vital role in detecting and diagnosing issues early, preventing catastrophic failures, and ensuring public safety. By continuously monitoring the health of structures, SHM provides invaluable data that aids in effective maintenance and timely repairs, thereby extending the lifespan of infrastructure, which is increasingly vital in climate change and its impact on built environments.


Read more: A Guide on Structural Health Monitoring (SHM)


The Role of IoT in Energy Consumption and Renewable Energy in Construction


The deployment of SHM systems powered by renewable energy sources addresses two critical challenges: 

(a) Reducing the environmental footprint 

(b) Fulfilling the energy demands of IoT in construction.  


In the Internet of Things (IoT) realm, energy consumption is critical when deploying numerous sensors required for SHM. The sensors and devices need to be energy-efficient to sustain long-term operations. Here, renewable energy can play a pivotal role.


The construction industry can significantly reduce its environmental impact by powering SHM systems with ambient sources like solar or wind energy while ensuring continuous, reliable monitoring. This approach aligns with Agenda 2030 and addresses IoT's energy demands in construction. 


Read more: Structural Health Monitoring: Instrumentation & Monitoring During Construction




Benefits of Renewable Energy in SHM


Harnessing power from renewable sources such as solar, wind, and structural vibrations provides a sustainable and continuous power supply for sensor networks. This advancement is crucial in ensuring the uninterrupted operation and long-term viability of SHM systems.


Moreover, the role of energy harvesting extends beyond merely powering sensors. It has become vital in detecting structural anomalies, significantly enhancing the robustness and efficiency of SHM systems. It marks a significant step in making structural monitoring more reliable and less dependent on conventional energy sources, ensuring long-term sustainability, reducing operational costs, and enhancing the reliability of monitoring systems.


Advancements in battery technology play a pivotal role in the efficacy of SHM systems. Modern batteries are more efficient, have higher energy densities, and have longer lifespans, essential for powering sensors over extended periods. Innovations in battery technology, such as lithium-ion and solid-state batteries, offer the potential for more compact, reliable, and environmentally friendly power solutions. These advancements ensure that SHM systems remain operational for longer durations, reducing the need for frequent maintenance and battery replacements.




Encardio Rite's NexaWave IoT Technology and Proqio Infrastructure Data Intelligence Platform


A notable development in this field is Encardio Rite's NexaWave IoT Dataloggers. NexaWave represents a significant leap in SHM, enabling a variety of sensors to connect and communicate seamlessly. This technology facilitates efficient data transmission from the sensors to Proqio, an advanced infrastructure data intelligence platform.


Proqio comprehensively analyzes the collected data, providing actionable insights for the maintenance and repair of structures. This integration of IoT technology and renewable energy in SHM exemplifies how digital advancements can enhance the monitoring and management of infrastructure.



Integrating renewable energy in structural monitoring is crucial to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and fulfilling global climate change commitments. As the construction industry evolves, the synergy between renewable energy, SHM, and technologies like NexaWave and Proqio will be instrumental in shaping a more sustainable, resilient world.

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