A comparative analysis of the application of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies in the energy sector: A case study of South Africa, Germany and China
Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies have elevated the capabilities and possibilities of improvement and efficiency in the energy sector. This paper interrogates how energy companies in South Africa, Germany and China apply 4IR technologies. A total of 26 energy companies in those countries were surveyed. An analysis was carried out using the Cronbach Alpha, Kruskal-Wallis and Mann-Whitney tests. Survey results indicate that 85% of companies acknowledge good levels of participation in the 4IR, and were clear about which 4IR technologies are important, although few companies develop these themselves. Technologies enabling access to big, real-time data (BRTD) and BRTD analysis software, are valued the most in measured importance, efficiency, reliability and ability to be integrated across the energy system. The transfer of data using the Internet of things ranked highly as a 4IR technology, whereas artificial intelligence, robotics and machine-human integration (also referred to as machine-human interaction) are considered less important, efficient, and reliable. China rates 4IR technologies as more important than South Africa and Germany do. For South Africa to be competitive in the global energy sector it needs to engage with and embrace 4IR technologies to a greater extent.
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