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.

ISO 50001 – complying with Energy Audit deadline

ISO 50001 – complying with Energy Audit deadline

Ireland’s Energy Audit Scheme (EAS) has focussed large companies on the completion of high quality energy audits by 05th December 2015, to avoid a Class A fine (large company means 250+ employees, or €50m turnover and a balance sheet of €43+m).

An energy audit aims to identify energy savings opportunities –which when acted upon reduce operating costs and increase profit.

An alternate route to EAS compliance is to have 70% of your primary energy use certified to ISO 50001, this not only extends your deadline to June 2016, but helps ensure energy savings opportunities are actually delivered.

There are no state aids to comply with laws such as S.I.426:2014 (the basis for EAS), but you can get funding for training provided the project delivers measurable energy savings. Enterprise Ireland’s (EI) GreenPLUS Business Improvement Grant offers 50% funding towards the internal and external costs of training.

To qualify for EI’s GreenPLUS funding, the business requires commitment from the CEO down and the resources to implement the changes needed to deliver measurable energy savings. Very often the first changes are no or low-cost to the company and deliver cost reductions, which help to increase profit and secure internal funding.

To apply for EI funding, talk to your EI Development Advisor first and confirm your business qualifies.

Whether you comply by way of audit or ISO 50001 certification, when you act on the opportunities identified, you can trade the energy savings for funding in the form of ‘Energy Savings Credits’. Talk to us or your energy supplier about funding in this area.

Conor Molloy (Registered Energy Auditor) www.aems.ie

Links
Enterprise Ireland http://www.enterprise-ireland.com/en/funding-supports/Company/Large-Company-Funding/Business-Process-Improvement-Grant-Large-Companies-.html

Water, water everywhere! – Part 2

Water, water everywhere! – Part 2

Data Acquisition Technologies

Following on from our introductory feature on water meters, in this episode I would like to introduce some of the technologies that are the backbone of these networks, these are the data acquisition/communication systems.

Firstly, a note on data acquisition
All elements of any metering network are essential in their own right, however data acquisition in my view is the most vital component. The only worse thing than no data is bad data.

So what are our options for data acquisition in water metering? Below are some of the options we will explore in this article:

Hard wiring
Radio systems
GPRS
Drive-by ARM
Local storage
PLE – Power Line Ethernet
Manual readings

We’ll take a look at these solutions in more detail now. As we’ll see below, it is very much a case of horse for courses and best to keep an open mind and be hardware agnostic where possible.

Hard Wiring

While hard wiring in itself is not strictly a data acquisition system, it is the method most often employed to get the signal(s) they pulse; Modbus or another format from the water meter directly into the data acquisition system. As the name suggests this system requires that a physical cable is laid from the meter to the data acquisition system, which is usually an I/O card in a BMS, SCADA or similar system. It is generally very reliable and can handle high frequency pulses in the region of 1 kHz. Signals will operate effectively (with the correct cabling) up to 100 meters or more. The great disadvantage of this system is the cost which increases with greater distance.

Radio System

There are many solutions that fall under the banner of “Radio System” and they are often utilised for telemetry systems. There are wide and varied solutions but these can generally be described using the following headings:

One way or two-way systems
Operational frequencies
Network topology

So how do you decide on a solution? Well as we’re talking about solutions for water metering we can simplify the options. Water meters are, as we discussed before, generally very simple devices with usually just a rudimentary volume pulse output. Therefore we don’t have a need for more expensive (all be smarter) two-way radio systems like ZigBee or Z-Wave technologies to name but a few.

As for selecting an operational frequency, as a general rule the lower the frequency, the greater the transmission distance (assuming similar power output) say 5mW, baud rate is generally not an issue carrying pulse signals (the lower the frequency, the lower the baud rate). You will find that most manufacturers will state the open field transmission distance of their systems.

To be fair to manufacturers, they can’t determine every type of installation possible so open field ranges are a good indication of the capabilities of the chosen system; now that comes with a HUGE heath warning, open field is no way an indication of actual performance within any building space. Experience has thought me that the most innocuously of buildings can be a devil to get transmission out off. Be especially wary of building with metal stud or any type of foil-backed products, these can often attenuate even the best systems to just a few meters of transmission.

Ensure your chosen system has at least a powered repeater option and better still, if they supply a field survey kit so you can carry out some simple test before installation. As most radio system transmitters operate on batteries, keep in mind the battery life of the transmitter, and if the battery can be replaced or will you need to replace the entire unit at some future point.

Network topology falls loosely into two groups “point to point” where the transmitter communicates directly to a single data concentrator or gateway or “mesh networks”, where the transmitter signals can hop from one device to another back to the gateway device. To be honest both solutions have their merits and as long as you’re not paying a premium for either solution both are acceptable.

GPRS / 3G

These systems backhaul the data through the mobile phone networks. If you have mobile phone coverage you can get you data over the GPRS or 3G networks. The cost of these devices has dropped dramatically in recent times and the real expense comes in the re-occurring charge for the SIM card in the device. This is very much dependent on the frequency of data required and can range from as little as €20/annum to several hundred euros. The devices will operate on batteries or from a mains supply, again very much depending on the frequency of transmission required (e.g. it might be acceptable to get one transmission per day from the unit with usage and in that way the device can power up for a few seconds each day to send its data and then power down again).

Drive-by ARM

These systems are also generally radio-based systems, often found operating at 868MHz in Europe. They have a limited transmission range, up to a few hundred meters. They are commonly utilised by utility metering companies. Their mode of operation requires that a suitable receiver is brought into the range of the transmitter. Once this receiver is in range, the transmitter uploads its data to the receiver usually for processing at a later time. These systems are called “Drive-by” because it involves a person passing along a given route to collect data from numerous meters. Battery life is very good in the region of 10 years plus.

Local Storage

With these systems the meter itself has local storage that can generally store a number of years’ worth of readings. The end-user must physically connect to the meter to download the data, over USB or infra-red transmission, etc.

PLE – Power Line Ethernet

Like “hard-wiring” PLE is not strictly data acquisition; it is a communications protocol. The signal(s) from the meters are converted to Ethernet and onto PLE and then backhauled over the local power wiring within the facility. At a central location it is a second PLE device that translates the data back to Ethernet; this data is then managed as required via a data concentrator, etc.

Manual readings

This is the simplest way to take readings from water meters. A person reads the dial on the meter at regular intervals and records the data in a log or spreadsheet. It is of course labour intensive with the associated costs.

See you in Part 3

Measurement and Verification of Energy Savings (M&V)

Measurement and Verification of Energy Savings (M&V)

The Measurement and Verification process should provide a record of savings made in a project and is commonly used in the validation of savings delivered by energy conservation measures (ECMs). This may be required to provide an auditable process to prove savings to the financiers of the project, such as your organisations Financial Controller, the finance house, energy performance contractor, Utilities/State agencies for grants, or other stakeholders.

Before starting any project, it is essential to establish benchmarking and provision a comprehensive automated measurement system ahead of the ECM implementation through to the final M&V reports. Investing in energy management information system (EMIS) such as ResourceKraft Advisor at this stage will provide the automated measurement along with the analytical and reporting tools needed.

M&V is the process of using measurement to reliably determine actual savings created within an individual facility by an energy management program. Savings cannot be directly measured since they represent the absence of energy use. Instead, savings are determined by comparing measured use before and after implementation of a project, making appropriate adjustments for changes in conditions. It will include how to isolate savings generated by the proposed ECMs. To maintain integrity of the process, use high quality meter data to attain the highest possible accuracy. It is extremely important that nothing is taken for granted. Existing or new metering should always be validated for accuracy before benchmarking. It is commonplace for meters to be installed incorrectly, particularly check and sub-meters, yet even utility meters. Once this is done, have the meters connected to your EMIS system for long term periodic reporting to the highest accuracy, to ensure persistence of savings beyond the M&V plan duration.

IPMVP:

The International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP) is a particular process that provides current best practice techniques available for verifying results of energy efficiency and is recommended by energy efficiency authorities such as the US Department of Energy and the SEAI of Ireland.

Persistence of Saving:

An organisation which has improved its energy efficiency should always ensure systems are in place to avoid lapses in performance. It should also utilise the benefits of continuous monitoring and reporting so unrelated incidents of avoidable energy waste do not pass unchallenged.

Persistence of energy savings can be achieved by completing follow-on efforts that build on M&V, such as engaging the larger organisation in a campaign of better energy management and the implementation of ISO 50001. Your Advisor EMIS will become the key tool for these programs, providing the key performance metrics, reporting and engagement platforms required informing management decisions and staff awareness.

Carrying Out an Energy Site Survey

Carrying Out an Energy Site Survey

An energy survey is an on-site technical investigation of the supply, use and management of energy which is used to identify energy saving measures. Below is a list of steps in the process of carrying out an energy survey and audit.

  1. Preliminary Audit
  2. Appoint Energy Management
  3. Planning
  4. Site Audit and Survey:
    • Energy Management
    • Energy Supply
    • Energy Conversion
    • Energy Use
  5. Findings
  6. Implementation
  7. Monitoring
  8. Data
  9. Target Setting
  10. Continuous Review

An energy survey is an on-site technical investigation of the supply, use and management of energy which is used to identify energy saving measures. Below is a list of steps in the process of carrying out an energy survey and audit.

The survey should consider the main things affecting energy use listed below:

  • Insulation and ventilation levels in the building
  • Occupancy times, temperatures maintained in the building and type of work being carried out
  • Determine the energy supply and the distribution arrangements
  • Determine the state and condition of the plant room
  • Identify the key opportunities for savings

The on-site survey will consist of the following:

  • Meet with the facility management
  • Safety induction carried out by the site safety official. This is to ensure that all staff and visitors adhere to the sites specific safety requirements
  • Walk through the site with the facility manager and familiarise the site layout and work activities being carried out. If needed then on-site electrical/maintenance personal will assist in identifying the electrical distribution panels gas meters, water meters, etc.
  • Determine the main principal energy flows
  • List the metering equipment that will be effective for the specific site
  • Create a “Wish List” of loads and utilities to be metered
  • Take as many photographs as possible to create a site album and to help identify different types of meters and areas
  • List all potential hazards, security requirements and PPE equipment needed for the future install

Equipment used in the on-site survey:

  • PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
  • Survey sheets
  • Grip-on Ammeter
  • Notepad
  • Camera

Upon finalisation of the site survey and with the information achieved, a pricing quote and installation plan will be put in place. It is essential to know what the customer’s capital budget will be before implementing this. If the budget doesn’t cover all the work needed to be carried out then a 5 year metering plan may be necessary. Once all these findings are finalised and achieved then a list of works will be sent to the sales team and an overall price and plan will be implemented.

“It’s not that I’m lazy! It’s just that I don’t really care”

“It’s not that I’m lazy! It’s just that I don’t really care”

We’ve all heard our managers asking, if not telling us to “turn off the lights before you leave” or “can we turn the heating down guys” or “make sure you switch off your machines before you head home”. But let me ask you, why do this? Why take such actions? To most, this is really beyond their concern. However as each office block continues to remain oblivious to energy usage, your company costs and carbon figures steadily rise year on year. This simple fact lends itself to tighter budgeting and more restrictions on payroll.

So, what can we do? Happiness…

We will start with simple cognitive changes. Understandably energy saving may seem like an extra burden to already stress filled employees; however it does not have to be such a thing. To begin to train the mind we will schedule a task set over 21 days. This task will require the employee to send 1 email every day to their manager in which they note a positive use of energy (or negative) or potential energy saving measure that they have found either in or outside of the workplace. This mental stimulation causes the brain to actively scan their environment in search of new and invigorating ideas, no matter how big or small. After the 21-day period is over, a lasting impression has been left on the individual so that going forward, positive energy saving thoughts are now common sense.

Well what next? How about a simple 2 for 1 offer. Only this time it is an offer which occurs solely within the company’s canteen.

Here’s the scenario

One employee wants a cup of tea and as a result must boil the kettle. Simply by asking a colleague if they too would like a cup of tea can potentially save this second person boiling a similar amount of water, at a slightly later stage. Overall the energy used for two cups of tea is similar to that for a single cup of tea, but instead two employees are happily drinking tea and the company is happier in the knowledge that energy is being used more efficiently.

But now we ask “how hot does it have to get in here, before we open a window?” The above diagram shows the significance of heating on your bill. Opening a window is a small and frivolous action. That blast of fresh cool air invigorates employees and makes working conditions much more habitable. However, it can also wreak havoc with our energy spend and in an entirely unnecessary way. In order to maximise air conditioning and heating in the work place, we must take proactive action. Install basic controls which monitor air temperature and can actively adjust heating use. Reducing ambient temperature by 1°C can save enough energy to print over 40 million sheets of A4 paper.

Lighting can have a positive impact on employee productivity. Firstly, by simply switching off lights out of hours, you can expect to save up to 10% on your energy bill. Where possible it is advisable to use natural lighting but if glare occurs as a result of daylight, we suggest adjusting window blinds to redirect the sunlight to the ceiling creating more diffuse office lighting. Meeting rooms are often quick fix areas. Lights are left on after meetings in a room which is no longer in use; don’t forget about these no-cost solutions to energy savings. Employees may need to be reminded through stickers above light switches or posters around the building. Lighting maintenance can also help to reduce costs by up to 15% due in part to the fact that lighting levels can drop by up to 30% in a 2-3 year period.

Water, water everywhere! – Part 1

Water, water everywhere! – Part 1

Water metering has never been so topical, but the practical issues on (or under) the ground are interesting and varied. What I have for you today is a selection of some of the more interesting challenges you might face in the effort to get your water metering data on to an automated energy management system.

Often, one of the greatest challenges is finding the water meter in the first place.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of figuring out which meter is the correct one or “your” utility meter.

Outputs

Now that you have identified the metering, the next question is what outputs are available or required. Usually, most water meters have pulse (frequency) outputs for quantitative flow (e.g. 1 pulse = 100 litres) and you’ll often find a “K” factor printed on the meter face or data place, which indicates the output value per pulse (i.e. K=1 that’s 1 litre/pulse).

Many meters also have forward and reverse direction indicator signals and totalled or partial (forward – reverse) pulse outputs. The SMART water meters will often also provide flow rate (e.g. litres/sec), usually on a 4-20mA output. Many of these meters will require a pulse cable or pick-up sensor to connect to the meter to obtain the output.

The meter pictured above has different pulse outputs available. On this meter these are selected by the insertion of a magnetic pickup into the meter body at the correct location. This meter can provide outputs in 0.1, 1 and 10m³ per pulse; all three outputs can be connected as required. As a general rule the higher resolution outputs are the most useful in terms of obtaining more granular data from your meter, so you would usually select the 0.1m³ output.

When you’ve found your meter and identified its available outputs, you start to ask yourself “how am I going to get the pulse data out of this meter?” for the energy monitoring system.

So, how do you get the signal out of there?

There are a few options in this regards:

Hard Wiring
Radio Systems
GPRS
Drive-by ARM
Local storage
PLE – Power Line Ethernet
Manual Readings

We’ll take a look at these technologies and their practical application in part 2 – see you soon!

The secret behind RK Annual Subscriptions

The secret behind RK Annual Subscriptions

One of our core mission is to make sure that our customers are well trained and fully understand our products. The RK Team is constantly improving the experience of their customers by providing top quality customer care as it is an essential part of our business.

We have recruited the best engineers in Ireland and we have a dedicated support team who is always ready to answer the questions you may have on our system.

Please keep in mind that there are no silly questions! We are here to make sure that you are getting the most from Advisor and your energy monitoring system. You can send your queries to support@resourcekraft.com.

Being a ResourceKraft’s customer means that you have chosen to take the power back into your hands. You do have a say in your energy bills – you CAN manage them and take significant steps to make savings. Your business will thank you for that and please be aware that we will be by your side to achieve those big goals!

Now let’s see what your annual subscription includes:

  • System Upgrades
  • Online & Offline Support
  • Access to scheduled monthly online training
  • Tariff Updates – limited to two per year

Finally we would like to extend our thanks for your continued use and support of our products. We wouldn’t be here without your support…and remember to contact our support team and share your thoughts and experience with us!

How can you tackle energy waste?

How can you tackle energy waste?

The costs of energy is usually after staff and raw materials and is the highest cost of operating a business. The majority of business owners and managers just accept what the cost is. We have carried out a detailed survey and found some very interesting results:

  • A 100-bed hotel must sell a fully booked hotel for 1 month to pay for energy. That doesn’t include the cost of the staff, the facility and the consumed products during that free month.
  • Non-food manufacturing must produce products for 45 working days to pay for energy and that excludes the cost of staff facilities and raw material. 17% of the production cost is energy. A 20% saving or reduction in waste makes the company 4% more competitive compared to their direct competitors.
  • Food process manufacturing must produce 60 days of free production to pay for the energy consumption. A 20% reduction in usage or waste elimination equals a 7% competitive advantage.
  • Transport: a freight forwarding company must travel 22,000 miles fully loaded to pay for the wasted energy consumption of the company. A 17% disadvantage in a competitive market – all lost due to waste.
  • 95% of all companies consume 12% of annual energy while closed or empty. All wasted, raising cost of operation and damaging competitiveness.

Cooling and chiller systems consume enormous quantities of energy. Changing the operation cycle and adding a freezer bank will achieve 30% saving.

Having a different approach to energy consumption and changing how we operate to reduce wasted energy is the best method for saving money and improving business competitiveness. As an example, implementing better controls on a steam boiler will save you 15% of energy consumption.

Behaviour changes the Irish solution to an Irish question. What do you do in an office where the air con is humming away the heating pumping through the radiators? You open a window! Improved or intelligent control of heating and cooling will achieve 22% reduction in energy wastage. Don’t rely on your BMS as it is very often the biggest culprit of energy waste.

Multi-site business coffee shops, newsagents, grocery stores, etc. one change in behaviour achieved €490 saving per month in just one store.

Across a network of 100 stores the saving to a business will be €588,000 in just one year. This is free saving and no capital investment.

The majority of waste and over spend on energy comes from simple poor practice and bad controls. A perfect example is the control of storage heating. Storage heating is often on from September to May. Every night, even when the facility is empty on Saturday or Sunday, or as we saw this in March temperatures hitting 20 degrees for a full week and the storage heating was still consuming massive amounts of energy every night. The solution is simple remote override subject to local conditions and good timer / scheduling control.

The biggest obstacle to a company not saving on energy usage is lethargy! Don’t do anything and just keep on doing what you are doing! The problem will not go away… but it’s not a nagging problem and when you do have to do something to cut cost, it is often too late for a business to save the millions wasted every year. My advice is do something about it, get active and add energy to your monthly management meeting agenda. Make it an important topic for the security of your business.

Understanding Your Utility Bill: Natural Gas (Ireland only)

Understanding Your Utility Bill: Natural Gas (Ireland only)

Following on from my post on understanding your electricity bill, here we aim to improve your understanding of your Irish Natural Gas bills.

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, often you will find with gas bills that they are either estimated (indicated by the letter E after the meter reading value) or have a consumption period that is not the standard calendar month due to manually meter readings.

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 on consumption and cost (e.g. there was a particularly cold snap and the heating was running for longer). Look for any one line item that appears to have increase considerably and question why this is?

There are two main ways to reduce the cost of your gas energy bill:

• Reduce your energy consumption

• Change/Negotiate a more favourable tariff with your utility supplier

Your Gas Bill Explained

Here is a typical gas bill. We have marked the main items and provide an explanation below:

1. Conversion Factor

The conversion factor is a metric used to convert the m3 “meters cubed” of gas that you consumed and translates it into kWh “kilo Watt hours” of energy consumed. This metric is subject to minor changes on monthly bases from your utility supplier.

2. GPRN

“Gas Point Reference Number” is your unique identification code which identity’s your meter and connection to the main gas network.

3. AC Band

The AC Band is a letter that identifies the amount of energy you typically consume in a year. This can impact on your Gas Commodity Tariff which you negotiate with your utility supplier. The bands are as follows….

A: Less than 6,000kWh
B: 6,000kWh to 23,500kWh
C: 23,500kWh to 73,000kWh
X: 73,000kWh to 750MWh
Y: 750MWh to 5,500MWh.

4. Consumption Period

Is the period of time that the bill is calculated on April 1 – April 30.

5. Gas Commodity Charge

The gas commodity charge (cent per kWh) reflects the monthly unit rate of wholesale gas. Natural gas is purchased in sterling on your behalf in the UK natural gas wholesale market. The cost of natural gas varies according to demand and supply.

6. Carbon Tax

This is a governmental charge implemented to tax all co2 emissions. The amount of co2 emitted depends on how much energy you consume. Example 0.194 kg CO2 / kWh of energy consumed or 11 kWh/m3 so that’s 2.134 kg CO2 / m3.

7. Fixed Rate Charge

The Fixed Rate Charge (c/kWh) incorporates those costs which depend on the volume of gas supplied where the appropriate rate of cost recovery (per kWh consumed) remains constant through the gas year and does not vary between customers. This charge consists of transmission commodity tariffs, distribution commodity tariffs, UK transportation costs, swing flexibility and an approved margin on total costs. This is a per kWh charge for the provisioning of gas to your site.

8. Site Charge

The standing charge that appears on customers’ bills for both gas and electricity goes toward the maintenance of the countries gas and electricity infrastructure i.e. gas pipes and electricity pylons. This charge is a fixed daily rate, market pressures influence what the utilities choose to apply.

9. Gas Shrinkage Charge

Gas Shrinkage charge means the cost of the Natural Gas which is used by the Transporter for the operation of the Transportation System including, inter alia, at compressor stations and lost or otherwise unaccounted for from the Transportation System or any part of the Transportation System.

Benfords Law and Energy Data: The SQL

Benfords Law and Energy Data: The SQL

I had some folks ask me what SQL query that I used to calculate the first digit frequency distribution in my previous post on Benfords Law. I copied it from this nice post on detecting fraud with Benfords Law.

Here it is again:
select substring(value::text,1,1),count(*) from dad_data group by 1 order by 1;

Note that if you have negative numbers or positive floating point numbers less than 1.0, you will get frequencies for the “0” and “-” symbols included in the results.

P.S. Benford’s law, also called the first-digit law, is a phenomenological law about the frequency distribution of leading digits in many (but not all) real-life sets of numerical data. The law states that in many naturally occurring collections of numbers the small digits occur disproportionately often as leading significant digits.

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