Anthony J. Pennings, PhD


ICTs for SDG 7: Twelve Ways Digital Technologies can Support Energy Access for All

Posted on | September 29, 2023 | No Comments

Digital Technologies, often known as Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), are crucial in supporting energy development and access in numerous ways. ICTs can enhance energy production, distribution, and consumption, as well as promote energy efficiency and help facilitate the transition to clean and sustainable energy sources. ICTs are accorded a significant role in supporting the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), including SDG 7, which aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all. To harness the full potential of ICTs for energy development, it is essential to invest in grid infrastructure and equipment, cybersecurity and data privacy, as well as digital literacy and skills.

Energy grids

Here are twelve ways that ICTs can support energy development and access:

    1) Smart Electrical Grids
    2) Renewable Energy Integration
    3) Energy Monitoring and Management
    4) Demand Response Programs
    5) Energy Efficiency
    6) Energy Storage
    7) Predictive Maintenance
    8) Remote Monitoring and Control
    9) Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Infrastructure
    10) Energy Access in Remote Areas
    11) Data Analytics and Predictive Modeling, and
    12) Research and Development.

1) ICTs enable the implementation of smart grids, which are intelligent electricity distribution systems. It allows for real-time monitoring, control, and automation of grid operations. Smart grids use sensors, digital communication lines, and advanced analytics to monitor and manage electricity flows in real time. These Internet of Things (IoT) networks can optimize energy distribution, reduce energy losses, and integrate renewable energy sources more effectively. IoT sensors in energy infrastructure enable remote monitoring, maintenance, and early detection of faults. This can reduce downtime and improve energy availability.

2) ICTs facilitate the integration of renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, geothermal, and hydroelectric energy, into energy grids. They provide real-time data on energy generation, storage, and consumption, allowing grid operators to balance supply and demand efficiently. Two main types of renewable energy generation resources need to be integrated: distributed generation, which refers to small-scale renewable generation close to a distribution grid; and centralized, utility-scale generation, which refers to larger projects that connect to major grids through transmission lines (See above image). Generating electricity using renewable energy resources rather than fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from the power generation sector and help address climate change.

3) Smart meters and energy management systems use ICTs to provide consumers with real-time information about their energy usage, replacing the electromechnical meters that were unreliable and easy to tamper with. These devices empower individuals and businesses to make informed decisions that reduce energy consumption and costs. Smart meters allow for instantaneous monitoring of energy consumption, enabling utilities to optimize energy distribution and consumers to track and manage their usage. The Asian Development Bank has been very active in supporting the transition to smart meters and in the process help countries meet their carbon commitments under the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change adopted by 196 Parties at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, France, in December, 2015.

4) ICTs enable demand response programs that encourage consumers to adjust their energy usage during peak demand periods in response to price signals and grid conditions. Utilities can send signals to smart devices (such as electric vehicles) to reduce energy consumption when necessary, avoiding blackouts and reducing the need to engage additional power plants. The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), other electric distribution utilities, and wholesale system operators offer demand response programs to help avoid overload, keep prices down, reduce emissions, and avoid expensive equipment upgrades.

ICT can also deliver related energy education and awareness campaigns through websites, mobile apps, dashboards, and social media to inform consumers about energy-saving practices and sustainable energy choices. Mobile payment platforms can also facilitate access to prepaid energy services, making it easier for people to pay for electricity and monitor their energy usage. Digital platforms can connect consumers with renewable energy providers, allowing individuals and businesses to purchase renewable energy certificates or even invest in community solar projects.

5) ICTs can be used to monitor and control energy-consuming devices and systems, such as HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), lighting, and appliances to optimize energy efficiency. Building management systems and home automation solutions are examples of ICT applications in this area. Energy-efficient homes, offices, and manufacturing facilities use less energy to heat, cool, and run appliances, electronics, and equipment. Energy-efficient production facilities use less energy to produce goods, resulting in price reductions. Key principles of the EU energy policy on efficiency focus on producing only the energy that is really needed, avoid investments in assets that are destined to be stranded, and reduce and manage demand for energy in a cost-effective way.

The utilization of more electrical energy technologies will assist the transition to more efficient energy sources while reducing green house gases and other potential pollutants. Heat pumps, for example, are an exciting addition that operate like air conditioned cooling, only in reverse. Heat pumps are used in EVs and are making inroads into homes and businesses.

6) ICTs support the management and optimization of energy storage systems, including batteries called BESS (Battery Energy Storage Systems) and pumped hydro storage. The latter moves water to higher elevations when power is available and runs it down through generators to produce electricity. These technologies store excess energy when it’s abundant and release it when demand is high. Tesla’s Megapack and Powerwalls use energy software platforms called Opticaster and Virtual Machine Mode that manage energy storage products as well as assist efficient electrical transmission over long grid lines.

Tesla Master Plan 3

7) In energy production facilities, ICTs can be used to monitor the condition of equipment and predict when maintenance is needed. This reduces downtime, extends equipment lifespan, and improves overall efficiency. ICT-based weather and renewable energy forecasting models improve the accuracy of predicting renewable energy generation, aiding grid operators in planning and resource allocation. Robust ICT networks can also ensure timely communication during energy-related emergencies, helping coordinate disaster response and recovery efforts.

8) ICTs enable remote monitoring and control of energy infrastructure, such as power plants and substations. These processes use a combination of hardware and software to track key metrics and the overall performance. Their equipment mix includes IoT-enabled sensors that track relevant data, while software solutions produce a dashboard of alerts, trends, and updates that can also enhance the safety and reliability of energy production and distribution.

9) Digital technologies play a critical role in managing EV charging infrastructures. They can help distribute electricity efficiently to both stationary and wireless charging stations. Mobile apps provide users with real-time information about charging availability, compatibility, and costs. They can also keep drivers and passengers entertained and productive while waiting for the charging to conclude.

10) ICT can facilitate the development of microgrids in off-grid or remote areas, providing access to reliable electricity through localized energy generation and distribution systems. These alternate grids use ICTs to support the deployment of standalone renewable energy systems, providing access to electricity and related clean energy sources such as geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, and wind. Renewable energy, innovative financing, and an ecosystem approach can work together to provide innovative solutions to rural areas.

11) ICTs enable data analytics and predictive modeling to forecast energy consumption patterns, grid behavior, and the impact of impending weather conditions. Analysing and interpreting vast amounts of data allows energy companies to optimise power generation through real-time monitoring of energy components, cost forecasting, fault detection, consumption analysis, and predictive maintenance.

These insights can inform energy planning and policy decisions. The ICT-enabled data collection, analysis, and reporting on energy access and usage can help policymakers and organizations track progress toward SDG 7 targets.

12) ICTs support research and development efforts in the energy sector by facilitating simulations and the testing of new technologies and energy solutions. Energy and fuel choices are critical determinants of economic prosperity, environmental quality, and national security and need to be central to academic and commercial research.

To fully address ICT for SDG 7, it’s essential to confront digital divides, expand internet access, and promote digital literacy in underserved communities. Supportive efforts among governments, utilities, technology providers, and civil society are vital to advancing energy access and sustainability. Collaboration among governments, utilities, technology providers, and research institutions can advance the integration of ICTs into the energy sector to ensure sustainable and reliable energy development for all.


[1] Some of the categories and text for this essay was generated by Chat GPT, edited with the assistance of Grammarly and written in line with my expertise and knowledge from my teaching an ICT and SDGs course for six years.

Citation APA (7th Edition)

Pennings, A.J. (2023, Sept 29). ICTs for SDG 7: Twelve Ways Digital Technologies can Support Energy Access for All.



AnthonybwAnthony J. Pennings, PhD is a Professor at the Department of Technology and Society, State University of New York, Korea where he teaches courses in ICT for sustainable development as well as broadband networks and sensing technogies. From 2002-2012 was on the faculty of New York University and he also taught in the Digital Media MBA at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas, where he lives when not in the Republic of Korea.


Comments are closed.

  • Referencing this Material

    Copyrights apply to all materials on this blog but fair use conditions allow limited use of ideas and quotations. Please cite the permalinks of the articles/posts.
    Citing a post in APA style would look like:
    Pennings, A. (2015, April 17). Diffusion and the Five Characteristics of Innovation Adoption. Retrieved from
    MLA style citation would look like: "Diffusion and the Five Characteristics of Innovation Adoption." Anthony J. Pennings, PhD. Web. 18 June 2015. The date would be the day you accessed the information. View the Writing Criteria link at the top of this page to link to an online APA reference manual.

  • About Me

    Professor at State University of New York (SUNY) Korea since 2016. Moved to Austin, Texas in August 2012 to join the Digital Media Management program at St. Edwards University. Spent the previous decade on the faculty at New York University teaching and researching information systems, digital economics, and strategic communications.

    You can reach me at:

    Follow apennings on Twitter

  • About me

  • Writings by Category

  • Flag Counter
  • Pages

  • Calendar

    May 2024
    M T W T F S S
  • Disclaimer

    The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of my employers, past or present.