Electric Vehicles (EVs) are being heralded as the big solution that will help the world reduce the total amount of CO2 emissions to a sustainable level. Transport currently accounts for around 30% of the total CO2 emissions on the planet, reaching as high as 50% in some areas. This also causes massive congestion and air pollution in these cities with many of them banning or limiting certain types of cars on different days. By changing how our vehicles move around cities to electric vehicles it is hoped that we can reduce our CO2 emissions & increase the total air quality.
As we move towards more renewable energy generation, we encounter problems that did not occur in our current system of generation – namely the variability of the power output. We can predict with a good amount of accuracy how much wind is going to blow or the amount of sunlight on any given day, but we are still some way off 100% accuracy. This article will describe the downsides of renewable energy generation and will go into some ways in which we can mitigate these issues.
A recent study was published in the UK regarding their Carbon Tax and the impact it had on the percentage of the total electricity generated in the country that came from fossil fuels, specifically coal. The amount of electricity produced by coal on the UK grid fell by 37% over a 6-year period since the Carbon Tax was introduced (from 40% to 3%).
People often ask us whether they can use a Building Management System (BMS) to collect energy meter data and act as an Energy Management System. In theory, this sounds like a good idea – install one system to control both energy use and collect energy data. In practice, it is anything but ideal.
Whether or not you choose to use ResourceKraft Advisor Energy Management System (EnMS), the lessons of the industry are to install an EnMS that is independent of your BMS, ensures data quality and system security and is ideally Cloud based. Best practice organisations like the UK Carbon Trust and the Irish Government’s Office of Public Works recommend the same.
It’s all about data integrity, essential to implementing credible energy management systems like ISO50001, Measurement and Verification to IPMVP and best utilising Ene 02 Energy monitoring under BREEAM.
1) Fit for purpose
As opposed to EnMS, BMS are not designed with continuous meter monitoring in mind, and are typically not capable of storing large amounts of real-time and historic data.
BMS software is static in design, with limited and inflexible data analysis tools, unable to produce energy monitoring reports, turn energy information into financial information or provide management and operations staff with the energy related feature set. It lacks flexibility and becoming quickly obsolete. Conversely, Cloud EnMS systems are updated regularly and can be customised if required.
2) Data loss
The primary problem with using a BMS for Energy Management is data quality.
Data loss occurs:
- Anytime there is a power dropout.
- Anytime the device network is reconfigured.
- Anytime there is maintenance on the BMS.
- Anytime there is a change in outstation connections.
- Many BMS are powered by or backed up to one local PC or server, and often can only store energy data for a number of weeks. When the power drops or the system crashes, recording stops and often historical data is lost. Data management and backups is your problem!
EnMS data loggers are designed to time stamp meter readings immediately and store the data securely in non-volatile memory, for months if necessary, ready to send to the Cloud where it is securely stored and backed up.
3) IT Network Problems
IT networks are one of the core causes of data errors, failures and loss. Modern IP based Building Management Systems are connected and run within an organisations internal IT architecture. Where an IT error occurs, the meters cannot be read until the fault is corrected. Resulting in meter data loss.
Using Canary data logger/gateways, months of storage ensures that meter data integrity is preserved and the option of GPRS/3G connectivity avoids IT networks altogether.
4) BMS System Errors
A BMS is a complicated system with a large number of inter-dependencies between schedules, equipment and machines. Adding another layer of machine to machine communication to a BMS creates another list of possible configuration failure, points and errors. All resulting in data loss.
5) Cost of Legacy BMS upgrade
This assumes the use of a modern IP-based BMS system. Legacy BMS often cannot acquire meter data adequately and need to be upgraded in order to do so. Upgrading a BMS is expensive, requiring significant and costly work and can take weeks if not months to complete.
The BMS does not work in isolation. Before deciding to upgrade a BMS, an organisation should monitor and analyse all of its lighting, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems to identify and prioritise based on Return on Investment, where the energy waste elimination opportunities are. A BMS operating well in its control function will not be one of those priorities.
6) Locked In
Most BMS companies place restrictions on the way data is collected, locking you into their proprietary systems This often means that an independent software programme cannot be used to verify the data received by the BMS. It means that organisations cannot use a 3rd party Energy Management software suite, which would provide many of energy analysis features that a BMS can’t. while denying you future access to open technologies and the advances of innovation and software.
Upgrading to an IP-based Building Management System exposes an organisation to a number of security risks. When the environmental control systems of the building are connected to the internet they can become a target for militant, corporate or criminal hackers. Many government organisations, universities, hospitals and corporate institutions limit BMS to an analogue or silo system for this reason. The result – excluding access for operational and production management and staff to the energy management software. Thereby defeating one of the main purposes of an Energy Management System – engaging those who are actually using the energy in its management control – a requirement of ISO 50001 and the best practice approach of national energy agency management programmes – Energy Star, Carbon Trust, SEAI, etc.
It is a common misconception that BREEAM Ene 02 mandates BMS (BEMS) for metering – The core intent of issue Ene 02 is the monitoring of energy use, therefore if an alternative system can achieve this, it would be considered acceptable. Guidelines were updated recently to remove this confusion. (reference KBCN0149).
It is acceptable under BREEAM for sub-meters to connect (or have potential to connect) to automated meter readers (AMR’s) or similar systems, as an alternative to BEMS.
There are many different methods to assess their energy performance, two of the more popular ones are LEED and BREEAM. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) was first developed in North America about 20 years ago, and is now widely used around the world and it is very practical and user friendly as well as being available online. Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) is the most popular rating system in Europe; it is practical enough to be implemented by the user. BREEAM is 8 years older than LEED but they both have their latest revision in 2005.
Most of the rating categories for both evaluation methods are the same or very similar, both having been based on the same philosophy of environmental impact and life cycle performance. They both go into a lot of detail surrounding not just the performance of the building but also how the building came to have that performance (i.e. the construction of the building) however BREEAM have a category specifically for this, whereas LEED have it included in their Ecology section.
As you go through the categories of both rating systems, this trend continues with BREEAM tending to have more detail than LEED and it requires you to delve further into the production process of the materials you are using on site, even having rating categories for the different types of materials used and their environmental impact over their entire life cycle. Everything from the basic building materials used at the start of construction to the finishing touches being put on the building, everything needs to be taken account of. This is only for new builds – if these systems are being used to measure the use of existing buildings this category can be skipped, which also means they will inherently be less efficient than buildings which are built with these specifications in mind.
BREEAM also has a category which is not included in LEED which deals with the Management of the building after construction. There needs to be a detailed manual that comes with the building once it is being handed over to the occupant explaining the sustainable use of the building and all the energy users in the building.
Although BREEAM has more categories than LEED this does not necessarily mean that it is better. Since the use of these procedures is voluntary, needing to go into so much detail can really put people off using BREEAM and without the use of a good alternative this would leave everyone worse off than using a slightly less in-depth analysis of every part of the building. At the end of the day these procedures were developed to generate benefits to both the environment and society, and even though they deviate from each other on the finer details they were both founded with the desire to improve the world we live in one building at a time!
“In 2015, we have reduced costs by €22 million as part of on-going initiatives to become more energy efficient.”Mr. David Franks, Irish Rail CEO.
ResourceKraft is delighted to have been awarded the contract to provide Iarnróid Éireann (Irish Rail) with its Energy Management Information Systems (EMIS) requirements for a term of 10 years. ResourceKraft will install the energy measurement systems with its service partners King and Moffatt Building Services. They will provision Advisor EMIS software to enable Iarnróid Éireann to implement its energy savings plans under their successful ISO 50001 program, to measure and verify (M&V) energy conservation measures and the information necessary to meet their government conformance reporting obligations.
“ResourceKraft is delighted to have been selected by Irish Rail to provide their energy management and reporting systems. We look forward to working together to further reduce Irish Rail’s energy use and aid their implementation of ISO 50001”, commented Frank Casey, ResourceKraft’s Director.
“In 2015, we have reduced costs by €22 million as part of on-going initiatives to become more energy efficient. We have engaged ResourceKraft to move further in that direction. ResourceKraft EMIS system will aid us in the management of our energy costs and identification of savings. This is an important investment in the Irish Rail’s commitment to energy efficiency and sustainability”, said Mr David Franks, Irish Rail CEO.
About Iarnród Éireann
Iarnród Éireann (or Irish Rail), a subsidiary company of a State-owned company, Coras Iompair Éireann (CIÉ), is responsible for operating rail services. Iarnród Éireann falls under the remit of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. The company operates passenger rail services nationwide and provides commuter rail services, including the DART service in Dublin.
ResourceKraft was established in 2007 on a foundation of experience in the electronics, computing and energy industries. It is the intention of ResourceKraft to develop innovative technology-driven products that assist organisations of all kinds, to measure and reduce their energy usage and carbon emissions, to assist with utility bill management and in general, to help enforce corporate policies on all of the aforementioned. ResourceKraft invests in and develops its own intellectual property – ensuring that it drives its own product development roadmap. It is at the forefront of research into energy saving technologies for businesses and maintains substantial links with the best researchers in both industry and academia.
About King & Moffatt
Established in 1982, King and Moffatt Group headquarters are located in Carrick on Shannon, Co. Roscommon as well as an expansion to a UK office located in East Croydon, London. They provide electrical and mechanical contracting services across all sectors of the construction industry. With King and Moffatt’s years of experience, knowledge and their competent workforce, they provide clients with a complete installation; including but not limited to design, handover and maintenance. Adding to these benefits, King and Moffatt have a newly founded Energy Engineering division. This allows them to offer clients the most efficient and long-term value solutions their facilities need, while also helping the environment.
One of the biggest problems faced by renewables is the unreliability of them – when the sun’s not shining, you can’t use it to heat anything. One way to solve this problem on a small scale is to have the turbines charge a battery, and then when there are periods of no wind the battery can take up the slack until the wind comes back again. However, once you get passed a certain point the size of the battery required to hold enough charge, and be able to do anything useful for any length of time becomes highly impractical. One way that scientists have thought of combating this issue is with a giant reservoir of heat that can be used to pick up the slack while the sun isn’t there. The Archimedes solar power plant in Sicily, Italy seems to be the solution to the problem. A 30,000 square meter field has been covered in mirrors that reflect the sun onto a pipe that carries molten salt heated to 550 C, which is stored in a tank and can be used to produce steam. That steam is sent to a nearby power plant to reduce its need to use fossil fuels. It can continually be produced at any time of the day or night, cloudy or otherwise, until the heat has been taken out of the molten salt. When the sun shines again the salt is reheated and the process starts all over again. Due to the thermal properties of the molten salt, it can be naturally stored at high temperatures for a number of days before it starts to get too cool to produce the salt.
Using the sun for our energy needs
That’s all well and good for countries with massive amounts of sunlight to keep the salt molten, but what good is that to countries like Ireland where the sun hardly ever seems to shine? Well, Ireland has one of the world’s greatest reserves of wind energy and with a bit of tinkering it may be possible to change the Archimedes plant to work with that. When electricity passes through a wire it gets hot so by putting a large coil of metal into a vat of salt and then connecting that coil to a nearby wind farm, we could have the wind heat up the salt instead of the sun.
This isn’t a solution we will see popping up in the next few months, but it is something to bear in mind for the future. We need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels if we want to curtail the effects of global warming and due to the unpredictability of wind energy it’s unfeasible to solely rely on it for our energy needs. Instead of having fossil fuels and renewables competing for the top spot we should combine them, play to both their strengths, the reliability of fossil fuels and the availability of renewables.
After a couple of days of reflection on the first consequences of the Brexit vote have materialised.
How is this likely to affect the UK energy market?
The immediate impact will be the weakness of the pound against the US$. The 14% drop to date has now been reflected directly in the gas price. This steep drop is projected to continue with financial industry predictions of it levelling out at 20% below the pre referendum US$ rate. Electricity prices will rise correspondingly into a double digit percentage.
What is of more long term concern is the impact on the generation investments planned over the next 10 years. Uncertainty requires greater return as compensation for the increased risk. This has already been reflected in the loss of UK’s AAA rating. The UK generation network requires over £14Billion investment of which over 50% will be from European suppliers. The scale of this means a significant increase in the cost of finance, which will add significantly to the long-term fixed costs of energy in the UK.
A study commissioned of Vivid economics by National Grid in March flagged the energy sector market forces. Their assessment was that higher costs of investment in energy infrastructure is the most significant Brexit risk.
So in short:
Electricity costs will likely increase significantly in 2016 and rise further in the following 2 years leading up to Brexit. The only option to maintain energy costs will be to invest heavily in the managed reduction of energy use.
The Carbon Trust launched the new Green Business Fund for SMEs in England, Scotland and Wales, providing £7 Million of capital contribution for replacement of the old with new more efficient equipment. The goal of the Green Business Fund is to cut energy costs and boost energy efficiency for those SMEs. The fund is limited to just 15% of a project value up to £10,000, so you will need a plan to find the rest.
What’s of more benefit is the offering of expert advice for the energy opportunity assessments and equipment procurement support. The Carbon Trust will also be running workshops to SMEs from June up until November 2016 to learn how to make the most of the programme. SMEs will be able to learn how to identify opportunities to reduce energy costs. You can register your interest in the workshops by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The expectation of the Green Business Fund is to reach over 1000 businesses. The reality is that few SMEs have the attention span or skillset to build equipment upgrade programmes in a piecemeal manner, so it’s going to be very much about if the shoe fits for their existing projects.
Were you to motivate new adoption by SMEs a 100% funding at a project value up to £10,000 would have been a much better proposition.
Carbon Trust advises that an energy management system can typically save an organisation between 5% – 20% in energy costs and significantly reduce energy use by providing real-time and accurate information to those who ultimately control their use.
ResourceKraft Advisor energy management software will help you to achieve your energy goals & targets through a host of tools and features including:
It is an enterprise-grade software platform that supports storage and analysis of large amounts of energy data, safely and securely. The system is completely scalable, capable of handling multiple inputs of meters and sensors across multiple sites as required.
There is a perception out there that government and state agencies are inefficient with regard to energy management.
So it may come as a surprise that the government performance to 2020 NEEAP targets in 2014 indicate a ~17% reduction, that puts the public sector about halfway towards its 33% energy efficiency target for 2020. That reduced spend saved the taxpayer €120 million!
So who are these notable efficiency reduction performers?
Bord Na Mona 49%
Irish Rail 36%
Defence Forces 16%
Educational, state commercial and local government bodies, consisting of 62% of the energy use considered under NEEAP, lead the way with an overall 19.4% reduction, pulling up the numbers for all the rest. The emphasis on achieving ISO 50001 certification by most of these bodies bodes well for the future.
As with all performance measurement, there are the underperformers. The most noticeable laggard is the HSE, using 21% of state energy, just reducing use by 11.8%. The good news is the OPW have been brought in to execute their successful Optimise Power @Work program within the HSE.
The worst performers are our schools and ETBS, at just 9.6%, reflecting a total abrogation of responsibility for energy efficiency and procurement by the Department of Education for the primary and second level sectors. Until these efforts are centrally funded and managed, it will continue to be so.