ResourceKraft News & Updates

News and updates from the energy sector and everything that goes with it from the latest market trends to the ramblings and insights from the brains of our energy engineers & designers.

Announcing new IoT energy monitoring solutions with VT & Sigfox

Announcing new IoT energy monitoring solutions with VT & Sigfox

ResourceKraft to offer new internet of things energy monitoring solutions with VT and Sigfox

Dublin, 5 April 2017— Through a partnership with VT, ResourceKraft is now offering Sigfox-enabled energy monitoring solutions and applications, which will give its Irish customers access to simple, low-cost options using this cutting-edge technology.

ResourceKraft is a global leader in easy-to-use and cost-effective energy management solutions for businesses, institutions and government agencies. VT operates Ireland’s nationwide Sigfox network, which is dedicated to connecting simple Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to the cloud. Together, VT and ResourceKraft will provide Sigfox technology to some of Ireland’s largest organisations.

ResourceKraft’s integration of Sigfox-enabled Adeunis sensors for temperature/humidity monitoring and pulse reading on electricity, water and gas meters will allow companies to monitor their energy usage without complicated installation or maintenance. The sensors will use VT’s Sigfox network to send the data to the cloud. ResourceKraft’s Advisor 10 energy monitoring application will then process and analyse energy data from the Adeunis sensors and convert it into business information, enabling organizations to understand how and where energy is being consumed at any given time across all sites.

The Sigfox network is optimized for simple sensors and devices, providing low-cost, low-energy connectivity for IoT solutions. For example, Adeunis sensors operate on batteries, and can run autonomously for up to 10 years because it takes only a small amount of energy to send information with Sigfox. There are Sigfox networks in 31 countries, and devices can roam seamlessly between them.

“Sigfox connectivity has proven to be an excellent option in the field of energy monitoring”

Mark Bannon, co-founder and CEO of VT.

“ It allows manufacturers to create affordable, autonomous monitoring solutions that can be easily retrofitted onto existing infrastructure, which lowers the barrier for companies to monitor and conserve their energy use. We’re happy to be working with ResourceKraft, which has a wide base of customers that could benefit from this new technology.”

“ The exciting and unique properties that the Sigfox technology offers makes it a compelling proposition for our customers and we are delighted to partner with VT,” said Liam Relihan, founder and CEO/CTO at ResourceKraft.

ResourceKraft will be at the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) Energy Show on the 5th and 6th of April to showcase their cost-effective energy management solutions. The show will be held at the RDS, Dublin 4. Make sure to visit ResourceKraft at stands B1 & B2. For more information about the show, visit

About VT Networks

Using Sigfox technology, VT operates Ireland’s first commercial network dedicated to the IoT. The nationwide network was rolled out in partnership with 2rn, which is the engineering arm of RTE. For more information, visit Or connect with us on TwitterTwitter or Facebook


Sigfox is the world’s leading provider of connectivity for the Internet of Things (IoT). The company has built a global network to connect billions of devices to the internet while consuming as little energy as possible. Sigfox’s unique approach to device-to-cloud communications addresses the three greatest barriers to global IoT adoption: cost, energy consumption, and global scalability. For more information, see and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube .

Understanding Your Utility Bill: Electricity (Ireland only)

Understanding Your Utility Bill: Electricity (Ireland only)

Before you can start seriously addressing your business energy costs, you need to understand how to read your energy bills. Now, the Irish energy utilities issue bills that are often (ahem!) less than tractable. This is a simple tutorial to help you read and understand them.

Getting to Grips with the Detail

The first step, when comparing any bill, is to check the billing period as the number of billing days in each month vary, having an effect on your bottom line. The next thing to check is that the tariff (e.g. Low Voltage Max Demand) has not changed without your approval. You should also be aware that some tariff types are seasonal (e.g. Summer/Winter) so you might see an increase in the cost of an October bill V’s September as we move into the winter period. This will usually be reflected by a change in the unit rates.

You should continue through your bill comparing each line item with the previous months. The consumption can, of course vary, depending on the operations at your site but you should be aware of these changes and understand how they impact consumption and cost. For example, you may have run extra shifts this month to meet customer demand. Look for any one line item that appears to have increased considerably and question why this might be the case. Also, look out for any surcharge items, e.g. Low Power Factor Surcharge. This indicates that you have been charged for abnormal usage, that may have been prevented, at your site.

There are three main ways to reduce the cost of your electrical energy bill:

1. Reduce your energy consumption.

2. Change/Negotiate a more favourable tariff with your utility supplier.

3. Ensure your Maximum Import Capacity (MIC) is correct and you are not paying for additional capacity you do not use. You should seek professional advice when making any changes to your MIC.

1. MPRN:

Metering Point Reference Number, this is a unique number used to identify your meter network connection.

2. DG MC Profile:

Used to identify user configuration and usage profile. The band which your organisation fits into can dictate the rates at which you will buy your electricity.

3. Billing Period:

The period within which your electricity consumption is billed.

4. Standing Charge:

The standing charge that appears on your bills for both gas and electricity goes toward the maintenance of the country’s gas and electricity infrastructure i.e. gas pipes and electricity pylons. This charge is a fixed daily rate and is site dependent.

5. Day Rate:

This charge is applied between the hours of 08.00 to 23.00. This rate is agreed during negotiations with your utility provider.

6. Night Rate:

This charge is applied between the hours of 23.00 – 08.00. This rate is ALSO agreed upon during negotiations with your utility provider.

7. Service Capacity Charge:

Maximum Import Capacity (MIC) is the level of electrical capacity contracted between your business and ESB Networks. The service capacity charge on your bill is based on your contracted MIC level. The unit of measurement for MIC is the kilovolt ampere (kVA)

8. PSO Levy:

Public Service Obligation Levy, is a government subsidy that is charged to all electricity customers in Ireland. The money collected from the PSO Levy is used to subsidise renewable energy generation and peat burning power plants.

9. DUoS Charge:

A DUoS charge is a fee that ESB Networks charges your Electricity Supplier for use of the Electricity Distribution System. This is a toll for the use of the ESB Networks Distribution network.

10. TUoS Charge:

The Transmission Use of System charges are the charges associated with provision of access to and use of the transmission grid. The revenue collected from TUoS is used to cover the cost of operation, planning and development of the transmission network.

11. LPFS:

The Low Power Factor Surcharge applies when the metered wattless power is more than one third of the metered kWh (in any two monthly billing period). The charge is applicable to the kVARh in excess of one third of the kWh.

12. Electricity Tax:

This is a charge applied by government on each unit of electricity consumed.

We will shortly do a follow-on post for gas bills.

Approximating Pi

Approximating Pi

Do you have some time for a little π ?

Imagine you’re stranded on a desert island and you really need to find a good approximation of π for some super machine that you’re building to make your escape.

Perhaps it’s AC powered from a tidal source or wind generator and there are a couple of phase angle calculations you need to make for the flux capacitor to power up? Or maybe the temporal calculations for your wormhole require just one more decimal place of π . Suffice it to say that you really need a good approximation to π for things to work just right.

Thing is, you can’t remember π to enough decimal places! If only you’d paid more attention at school, right? Given you have a pencil and some paper, and perhaps a simple electronic calculator (ahem), there may just be a way to get the information you need. Fortunately you also have a good recollection of the Mandelbrot Set and its properties from your time studying chaos and fractals (as you know, a subject quite close to my heart…)

I don’t want to get too much into the maths behind the Mandelbrot Set in this article, (if you want to, take a look here), but what I’d like for you to bear in mind is that its calculation is based upon the concept of prisoners and escapees – something quite relevant to our island scenario.

The core of the computation is based on an equation of the form,

z 2 + c

If we calculate the value of this function when z = 0.0 and feed the result back into c we get an infinite sequence of the form:

0 -> c -> c 2 + c -> c 4 + 2c 3 + c 2 + c -> …

With the Mandelbrot Set the result as the sequence progresses either gets smaller and smaller or larger and larger and the original point becomes either imprisoned within the set or escapes from the set, hence the common prisoners and escapees analogy.

In fact it quickly becomes apparent that if we plug a number into this feedback equation and the result is <= 2 then the number is in the Mandelbrot Set and if it’s > 2 it’s out of the set. (The number 2 is an arbitrary choice in this case, for us, and we’ll take it just as something that encompasses the whole set for rendering purposes. This time.)

Now, let’s not get into complex numbers too much – we’re stranded on a desert island and it’s hot!

Now, let’s not get into complex numbers too much – we’re stranded on a desert island and it’s hot – let’s just think about the x-axis in this case or the real numbers only.

See that bit of the set where it crosses the x-axis, that’s exactly at the value of x = 0.25 and the imaginary part of the related complex number is zero such that anything less than or equal to 0.25 is in the set and anything greater than 0.25 is outside the set. It’s sometimes referred to as the cusp of the Mandelbrot Set.

What we’re interested in (and how people sometimes colour the set) is how many iterations of the feedback equation are necessary for the result to grow greater or less than a specific number (we’re using 2, remember?) In this case we’re interested in the border of the set (which itself is fractal, but again let’s skip some interesting detail for the sake of brevity) and the specific number we’re interested in as a boundary value is the number 2.

Let’s take the cusp x-axis location c = 0.25 as our starting point and explore the numbers just a little bit bigger than c. We know that anything less will be trapped in the set, but how many iterations (let’s call this I(c)) will it take for the result of the feedback equation to grow larger than 2 if we add a very small amount to c? Let’s call this additional amount ε such that we’re investigating c+ε as a starting point.

Let’s choose say 1.0 as a value for ε such that c is now 0.25 + 1.0 = 1.25 (and z always is 0.0):

I(0): 0.02    + 1.25
I(1): 1.252   + 1.25
I(2): 1.56252 + 1.25 = 2.8125 [bang, we’re bigger than 2.0]

It took 2 iterations to break out and get larger than 2.0

Let’s choose a smaller number, say ε = 0.5, to get closer to the set so c is now 0.25 + 0.5 = 0.75:

I{0): 0.02    + 0.75
I(1): 0.752   + 0.75 = 1.3125
I(2): 1.31252 + 0.75 = 2.4726 [bang]

Again, it took 2 iterations again to break out.

Let’s go smaller, how about ε = 0.3 such that c is not 0.25 + 0.3 = 0.55:

I(0): 0.02    + 0.55
I(1): 0.30252 + 0.55 = 0.8525
I(2): 0.85252 + 0.55 = 1.2767
I(3): 1.27672 + 0.55 = 2.1801… [bang]

This time it took 3 iterations…

Let’s make a table of ε (how far we are from c) vs. I(c) (or the iterations needed to escape):

ε I(c)
1.0 2
0.1 8
0.01 30
0.001 97
0.0001 312
0.00001 991
0.000001 3140
0.0000001 9933
0.00000001 31414
0.000000001 99344
0.0000000001 314157
0.00000000001 993457
0.000000000001 3141625
0.0000000000001 9935818
0.00000000000001 31430913

Can you see what’s happening here?

As we get closer and closer to 0.25 by choosing smaller and smaller positive offsets the number of iterations required to exceed 2.0 and escape the set is alternately approximating to the sequence of digits in π.

Even on a desert island with a rudimentary knowledge of the approximate value of π (i.e. at the very least we know it starts with a 3.something) we can insert the decimal point appropriately and realise our answer. But, there’s something else going on here.

Ok, we’re getting alternate approximations to π, but there’s something else, something really subtle. Can you see it? Let’s add another column to the table, √ε * I(n).
(I’ve rounded the extra column to 6 decimal places for brevity.)

ε I(n) √ε * I(n)
1.0 2 2.000000
0.1 8 2.529822
0.01 30 3.000000
0.001 97 3.067409
0.0001 312 3.120000
0.00001 991 3.133817
0.000001 3140 3.140000
0.0000001 9933 3.141090
0.00000001 31414 3.141400
0.000000001 99344 3.141533
0.0000000001 314157 3.141570
0.00000000001 993457 3.141587
0.000000000001 3141625 3.141625
0.0000000000001 9935818 3.141982
0.00000000000001 31430913 3.143091

It’s just a little bit like magic. It turns out that √ε * I(n) for every row is an approximation to π and it’s getting closer and closer! Also, we don’t even need to insert a decimal point ourselves.

Unfortunately it is a rather computationally intensive exercise, and the most inefficient method of approximating π that I’ve ever come across, but I didn’t promise it was efficient and it’s certainly something you could certainly do on a desert island whilst awaiting rescue if you need to pass the time. A lot of time.

Extra Credit:

  1. If you have a powerful machine and wish to continue the sequence here’s the Mathematica snippet I was using to calculate the number of iterations:

ostart = 0.25;
e = 0.0000000000000001;
c = ostart + e;
iter2[x_] := x^2 + c;
Length[NestWhileList[iter2, c, # <= 2.0 &]] [/cs_text][cs_text]

As the number of iterations increases so do rounding errors when computing on digital computers (depending on how they’re stored) so there is a limit to how accurate we can go on a particular machine. If you have a better method, drop me a line and let me know – I’d be interested to know how far we can get in a reasonable time.

  1. While researching the article (and trying to remember how it worked from when I originally came across this method) I discovered a great video by Dr Holly Krieger that explains a subset of the calculation process in a video on the YouTube Numberphile channel:

    Pi and the Mandelbrot Set – Numberphile

  2. There are, in fact, many other ways to approximate π using the Mandelbrot Set, but this is pretty much the simplest and also doesn’t involve complex numbers even though the calculations are pretty intensive.
  3. “Pi and the Mandelbrot Set” by A Klebanoff

    I’m actually plugging this one additionally as I once had an article in the same journal, though a little earlier – Vol. 2, No. 3, 1994:



Fractals, Chaos, Pi, Mandelbrot, Set, Julia, Iterated Functions, Complex Systems

Energy Usage Related Signals

Energy Usage Related Signals

The power spectrum of a signal is a fascinating way of digging deeper into understanding complex systems. If you recall your basic physics, a power spectrum shows how the power of a signal is distributed over its frequency range.

I have a long standing interest in chaotic systems and fractals and came across a fascinating paper from 1975 by Voss and Clarke[1] which illustrates how what’s termed “1/f noise” or pink noise surfaces in the power spectrum of many natural processes. I won’t go into the detail here (you can read the paper for the finer points) but when you take a log-log plot of the frequency against power from various processes you end up with a distribution that shows a slope of approximately -1.

I don’t always take results for granted, being a bit of an empiricist, so I took their results for Bach’s Brandenberg concerto and reproduced the experiment across one of the shorter pieces. Here’s what the power spectral density (PSD) looks like:

Just to be sure, I downloaded a sample of White Noise (where the power spectrum is equally distributed over all frequencies and performed the same procedure). I think we can agree that the slope there is pretty close to zero:

Let’s try some other examples to see if pink noise is as commonplace as is thought. A few papers reference it cropping up in the natural physical environment[2], albeit with mixed results, but nevertheless it does seem to occur in some rather diverse and somewhat surprising systems. How about in energy consumption related phenomena? (As that’s the market we’re in, after all.)

I took some detail on the average total energy demand for Ireland over December 2016 and computed the PSD:

It does indeed look like 1/f noise is present in the PSD. So, power demand driven by people based upon a range of phenomena (day/night, working hours, TV schedules, etc.) appears to contain the same pattern.

Ok, interesting, so let’s get a little more esoteric. How about we try wholesale energy cost for the electricity grid (again for December 2016)? This is based on system demand along with other factors such as generator availability, energy surplus, and other market related factors:

Here we’re seeing peaks for the regularity of daily changes but interestingly we don’t see the 1/f pattern. Has the fact that we’ve introduced some market related trading into the mix of influences removed this particular kind of noise? Indeed, if anything other than the stronger peaks around the daily changes there seems to be a pattern similar to that of the white noise we analysed earlier.

So, in summary, 1/f noise seems to be present in the total demand for power across Ireland but not present in the spot prices charged for energy at a higher level. Unfortunately I don’t have the time to go into this in more detail, but it’s interesting that introducing another layer of abstraction should seemingly remove this seemingly natural phenomenon.

With such a brief study it’s difficult to draw implications for energy demand, but perhaps there is a significance for energy demand prediction. Quickly producing a PSD plot of predicted energy demand would easily show the presence of 1/f noise. If it’s missing then perhaps it’s worthwhile checking the model again? More research would be required but maybe we have revealed a quick and relatively easy sanity check for such predictions? More research required!


[1] ‘1/f’ noise in music and speech’ – Nature, Vol. 258, No. 5533, pp. 317-318 November 27, 1975
[2] ‘Presence of 1/f noise in the temporal structure of psychoacoustic parameters of natural and urban sounds’, Ming Yang, Bert De Coensel, Jian Kang, The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Volume 138, Issue 2, 10.1121/1.4927033


Energy, Pink Noise, Fourier, Power, Spectral Density, Energy Consumption, Analysis

Buildings and their energy performance – LEED and BREEAM

Buildings and their energy performance – LEED and BREEAM

Frank Casey News & Updates

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!

Clinton Vs Trump: Energy Policies

Clinton Vs Trump: Energy Policies

With the American Elections less than a month away, the media’s attention has been focused on each of their respective policies once they become president. Their policies differ greatly. This article aims to give a brief outline of the two candidates’ energy policies and where they stand on important environmental issues.

Renewable Energy

Hillary aims to generate half of America’s electricity from renewable resources by the end of her first term. To achieve this, she plans on launching a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge. She wants to invest in clean energy research and cut subsidies for oil and gas. An example of this is installing half a billion solar panels by the end of her first term.
Donald plans on increasing fossil fuel production, which he claims will lead to a ‘resurgence in American manufacturing’. He also states it will provide for more Americans jobs.

Oil Drilling

Clinton opposes Arctic drilling, whereas Trump’s ‘America First’ plan will lift most restrictions on oil and gas companies and allow them to drill in both the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

Climate Change

Hillary will be maintaining the agreements made in the Paris Agreement by investing in clean energy.
Trump stated that he does not support the evidence that climate change is real and plans on undoing the Paris Agreement. Rather than focusing on climate change, Trump said he would rather focus on other environmental issues such as ensuring everyone has access to clean water and developing alternative energy sources.

Coal Power

Hillary says she will invest $30 billion to diversify coal-mining towns. Trump wants to end regulation that effects the growth of the USA’s coal industry.


Clinton aims to reduce gas emissions (set by Paris agreements) by 30% by 2025 and 80% by 2050. Trump stated that within the first 100 days in office he will pull out of the Paris Agreement.

Irish Rail Energy Management contract awarded

Irish Rail Energy Management contract awarded

“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.

About ResourceKraft
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.

Happy Birthday to you Mr. ISO 50001

Happy Birthday to you Mr. ISO 50001

A very happy 5th birthday to the ISO 50001 standard!

It is not surprising to see that more and more organisations are turning to the ISO 50001 standard to improve their energy efficiency. To date there are more than 7,000 sites worldwide that have achieved the certification.

But what is ISO 50001*?

ISO 50001 is a voluntary International Standard developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) to provide organisations an internationally recognised framework to manage and improve their energy performance.

The standard addresses the following:

• Energy use and consumption
• Measurement, documentation, and reporting of energy use and consumption
• Design and procurement practices for energy-using equipment, systems, and processes
• Development of an energy management plan and other factors affecting energy performance that can be monitored and influenced by the organization.
• ISO 50001 does require continual energy performance improvement but it does not include prescriptive energy performance improvement goals. Rather, it provides a framework through which each organisation can set and pursue its own goals for improving energy performance.

ISO 50001 is based on the same management system model of continual improvement used for ISO 9001 and 14001. This compatibility makes it easier for organisations to integrate energy management into their quality and environmental management efforts. However, ISO 50001 adds new data-driven sections related to energy planning, operational control & measuring and monitoring.

By implementing an energy management system (EnMS), organisations can cut costs, minimise energy waste and reduce their carbon footprint. Energy-related costs can actually be controlled and by putting an energy management in place, it will allow organisations to identify the activities that consumed the most energy.

Organisations do not have to be certified to ISO 50001 to improve their energy management. Saying that, the certification will allow organisations to adopt a more structured approach in their energy efficiency goals. By putting an internal policy in place, organisations will also notice a significant behavioural change among their staff. Caring about the environment, saving on resources and reducing carbon emissions should be the duty of every single human being. We owe it to our children to think about tomorrow.

* As explained on

Battery Power is going salty

Battery Power is going salty

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.

HVAC Efficiency Tips for your Business

HVAC Efficiency Tips for your Business

On average, HVAC systems account for 40% – 60% of a building’s energy consumption. Increasing HVAC efficiency in buildings is critical to reduce detrimental global energy usage impacts, as well as saving your company money by reducing usage costs.

So, what exactly is HVAC Efficiency? In basic terms, it means making sure your HVAC equipment is heating and cooling your building in the most effective way possible. This applies to the equipment as well as usage. Given below are some tips to increase your HVAC productivity.

HVAC Equipment:

1. Carry out a Professional Audit – Having a professional perform an audit on your HVAC system will help you determine the condition of your HVAC as well as giving solution to improve its efficiency.

2. Maintenance – This could include checking for leaks and defective equipment in your pipes, ducts, coils, etc.

3. Consider Part Load Performance when selecting Equipment – Most HVAC equipment only operate at their peak efficiency when fully loaded, which only happens 1-2.5% of the time. Most systems operate at 50% or less of their capacity. Select systems that can operate efficiently at Part Load.

HVAC Usage:

1. Use an Economizer and Controls – These will optimize the heating and cooling of your building during peak and off peak hours.

2. Reduce Load Capacity – This will help your system run less frequently. Some measure to reduce load capacity includes installing insulation, energy efficient lighting and upgrading to ENERGYSTAR certified appliances.

3. Employee Awareness – Even small actions such as turning off computers and lights after hours all contribute to your HVAC efficiency. Train your staff to implement energy saving measures into the daily work day. Staff should also receive guidance on recommended operating temperatures and how to use heating/cooling units correctly.

4. Change Air Filter Regularly – Check your filter on a monthly basis, especially during high usage months such as summer and winter. The filter should be changed every 3 months minimum. A dirty air filter slows air flow and the system works harder to regulate temperature.

By implementing these changes, your business can benefit from substantial energy savings, as well as reducing your company’s carbon footprint; a win-win situation that is relatively easy to implement.