Energy monitoring will help you save money

Many companies want to reduce energy usage, but they feel that the capital costs are too high to change equipment to become more energy efficient.

However, there is a cost effective solution for companies that has an excellent ROI and does not involve changing equipment.

The solution I am talking about is “energy monitoring software”. This system will monitor energy usage on multiple loads in a store or building and will tell you exactly where your energy usage is increasing.

Energy monitoring is like an accounting system for your energy bills. Usually companies get an energy bill and all they see is the total amount of energy consumed and their electricity rate.

They do not know where the energy is being used or if something can be done to reduce energy costs.

How an energy monitoring system can be useful:

1. Identify and explain increase or decrease in energy use

2. Draw energy consumption trends (weekly, seasonal, operational…)

3. Determine future energy use when planning changes in the business

4. Diagnose specific areas of wasted energy

5. Observe how the business reacted to changes in the past

6. Develop performance targets for energy management programs

7. Manage their energy consumption, rather than accept it as a fixed cost that they have no control over.

Many companies that have used energy monitoring systems have found an average of $3,000 per month in energy savings.

How is this possible?

First of all, the energy monitoring system uses CT’s (current transformers) to measures the phases on 17 loads. It measures energy usage on lighting, HVAC, freezers, bakery ovens, heaters in the front entrance, offices etc.

Once an abnormally high load is identified, simple tweaking of the Building Control System will ensure that heaters do not come on at night, or that the lights are shut off at the right times.

Also, management at the store will be more energy efficient, since they know there is an external system monitoring their progress.

There are few companies that can provide this type of sophisticated energy monitoring system.

So, as you can see, being energy management efficient does not mean you need to rip out all your equipment and start new to spend a lot of money.

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Load Shedding for Utilities

The electricity that people use is generally produced and supplied by companies. Load shedding results when people are demanding more electricity than a company has to give. To resolve the situation, that company may have to deny certain users electricity at certain times.  This prevents blackouts from occurring which causes instability in a country and is not good for the economy.

Many people take electricity for granted. This is often because people think electricity is unlimited. In many parts of the world, especially in developing countries, this is not true.

Providing electricity involves converting some type of resource into energy that can be used to produce the needed electricity. For example, coal or hydropower may be used. Companies involved in this process usually have a limited capacity, meaning they can only produce so much. There are also instances when the resources used to produce the electrical power are limited or unavailable.

Load shedding occurs when consumers demand levels of supply that exceed their providers’ capacities. When these types of threats are looming, people are often warned to conserve electricity and limit their consumption. This strategy often proves ineffective, so the providers must resort to more drastic measures. However, there are solutions available that will do load shedding by interfacing with small demand controllers in thousands of locations. When a demand peak is coming, the utility can quickly respond by invoking the demand controllers to shed unnecessary loads. For example, it can turn of an air conditioner, or a pump or a portion of the lighting load.  If the utility does demand control for small equipment over thousands of locations, it can reduce the overall energy usage substantially.

However, sometimes the government does not want to spend money on these type of systems and a blackout occurs. A blackout is usually an uncontrolled power outage. If excessive demands are left unresolved, this will be the result. Blackouts, however, can be problematic. Since consumers have no indication of when a blackout will occur, they can be unduly inconvenienced. For providers, blackouts can result in damaged networks.

Load shedding is a controlled alternative response to excessive demand. To ease the burden on themselves and their consumers, providers may begin to ration electricity. Instead of allowing a blackout to occur, which could cause many people to be without power for an unknown amount of time, providers may shut down the flow themselves.

This is usually part of a plan. The providers decide how to best distribute the electricity so the burden of the shortage can be spread across their networks. Load shedding often involves schedules that determine which areas will be denied power and at what times it will happen.

Load shedding is referred to as rolling blackouts for this reason. First, the flow of electricity is cut in one area for a predetermined amount of time. Then, supplies are reconnected in that area and disconnected elsewhere. In many cases people in the affected areas, especially the businesses such as supermarkets that are dependent on power, are notified in advance.

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Lighting Controller System by EG Energy Controls

A. Technological Objective

To develop an economically viable microprocessor based Lighting Load Detection System for centralized Energy Management System.  This particular product will be able to detect electricity load change in industrial and commercial applications and relay the information to a centralized Lighting Control System the VoltMiser is a patented lighting controller system which reduces power to High Intensity Discharge Lamps and Fluorescent tubes by means of voltage reduction (0-25%).

B. Scientific or Technological Advancement

This microprocessor based Lighting Load Detection System will create virtual interface between the VoltMiser Lighting Controller and remote lighting switches.

In order for the lighting controller work properly  and meet lamp and ballast manufacturer’s warranties, it mandatory for the lighting controller to apply nominal voltage to the electrical panels for a period of 15 minutes whenever the lights are tuned on. Typically such a system is connected to electrical panels and requires a light status feedback. In simple applications, this is done by means of hard wire between the lighting controller and the lighting switch. However, in more complex applications such as multistory buildings with hundred of offices or room, it is uneconomical to implement any lighting control system to reduce power. On the other hand the Lighting Load Detection System will sense lighting load in the electrical circuits and will force the lighting controller to go to nominal voltage whenever the lights are turned on. This Lighting Load Detection System can be used in Hotels, Offices, Schools, Hospitals and commercial building. A typical yearly savings for these locations are $ 20,000.00 – 80,000.00

Here are some advantages:

  • Allows implementation of energy conservation multi office/rooms environment  with 2 Year Payback
  • Reduces Energy  Demand and kWh cost
  • Reduces Green House Effect
  • Reduces Labor Cost (Installation time – 16 hour)
  • Simplifies electrical control interface –  Plug & Play concept

Scientific or technological uncertainty

The most uncertain and challenging obstacle is to detect a small lighting load 0.44 kW within O.5 second when the light is turned on. High Intensity Discharge Lamps and fluorescent lamps have different starting characteristic and it is very challenging for the R&D team to develop hardware and the software to insure stability, reliability and compliance with the ballast and lamp warranties. The hardware has been designed to remove major electrical noise and the software to process the incoming signal. The software has to have a complex algorithm to distinguish what is a valid signal and what is not. There is no room for error. If the software fails to detect a valid signal, the lamps will fail and the warranties of the lamps will be void. For example, a typical grocery store uses 240-350 lamps and if these lamps fail because our electrical load detection did not detect the valid signal (some of lights are turned on), it will cost  $ 13,200.00 – $ 19,250.00 to replace the lamps.

Summary – The concept of lighting /electrical load detection in the commercial and industrial application creates technological uncertainty for the following reasons:

  1. To develop Electrical Load Detection software to be compatible with High Discharge & Fluorescent Lamps
  2. To develop Load Detection Algorithm  which will be  reliable in Commercial and Industrial Environment
  3. To develop  universal input/output  interface to be compatible with Energy Management System
  4. To develop  Algorithm  to perform  noise rejection and filtering  based on digital data processing
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Energy Conservation is Not Just for Tree Huggers

Energy conservation used to be the talk of tree huggers and environmentalists. Companies thought that they will just negotiate with the power company for a cheaper energy price and that is all they need to do to reduce their energy cost.  However, as energy prices continue to rise and the stability of fossil fuels is becoming shaky, even CEO’s and President realize the need for energy conservation. What is energy conservation? Basically its like making the perfect martini. Just the right amount of gin and vermouth and a dash of olive juice.

The principle is to use only the energy you need for the operation of a company and to reduce wastage. Just like a martini can be ruined with too much gin, a company becomes wasteful when it doesn’t use its energy properly. Most companies see their power bill and think “that’s just part of doing business. I need a store, lights and equipment. There is no way I could be in business without paying for my power bill.” That is true, however there are many companies that do not know how much electricity, oil, gas or propane they waste every day because of simple inefficiencies. For example, not shutting half the lights off at night. Having heaters and air conditioners operating at the same time.

Leaving stock room doors open when it’s freezing outside. However, many VP’s and CEO’s complain that there is no one to watch for all these inefficiencies. Yet with the rise in technology, there are ways for companies to do energy conservation without having to increase their work force. The system is called “energy monitoring system” and it will monitor 17 or more points in a company and will tell Managers where their energy is being used. So instead of getting a power bill and just blindly paying for it, you now have the capacity to change your bill. Wow, imagine the power you have that you can change the amount of you pay for your energy bill.

One company called EG Energy Controls can provide an energy monitoring system that will show you which equipment is using the most energy, which departments are the most energy conscious and how much emissions you are reducing with your energy saving practices. Energy conservation is actually the simplest way to reduce energy costs because it has minimal capital costs and it has a big payback. A lot of times companies rely on getting cheaper energy to reduce their energy costs, however that is delaying the inevitable. The reality is that energy costs will continue to rise and the companies that have already invested in energy conservation methods will be the ones reaping the rewards. The ones that were slow, they will not have the time to rebound and they will go bankrupt.

That reality is not a pretty one, but times are changing and our dependence on cheap energy will not last. If you are interested in getting advice on how to reduce your energy costs, find a reputable company that has a good track record. They will help you reduce your energy costs and provide you with systems that have an excellent payback.

Here the author Julia Herniak writes about the Energy Conservation is Not Just for Tree Huggers. For more information on energy monitoring, visit http://www.egenergy.com

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Process of Load Shedding Works

Many companies are not familiar on how to reduce demand peaks, however load shedding is a very simple way to reduce energy costs. By installing a demand controller you can reduce energy costs by shedding unnecessary loads when a demand peak is coming. Shown below are calculations how to determine your current load and how much you can reduce your demand peaks.

Beginning at the start of a Reset Date the Current Load Limit is set to the same value as the Minimum Load Limit, for example 320KW. After a period of time, the system measures Current Demand during a Block to be 340KW.The demand controller begins to do load shedding At this same time Peak Demand becomes 340KW. The system uses the Peak Demand value to calculate if the Current Load Limit should be increased or not. If the Peak Demand is “less than or equal to” the Current Load Limit plus a value called Load Limit Overshoot the Current Load Limit will not increase. The Load Limit Overshoot value is preset to 20KW.

340=320+20  (equals, the Current Load Limit is not increased).

During the next Block, with the system still doing load shedding, the Current Demand increases to 380KW therefore the Peak Demand increases to 380KW (e.g. Bakery starts working). If the Peak Demand is “greater” than the Current Load Limit plus the Load Limit Overshoot the Current Load Limit will increase.

380>320+20 (greater, the current load limit to be increased)

When the Peak Demand is “greater” than Current Load Limit by the Load Limit Overshoot value or more, a new Current Load Limit will be calculated.

Peak Demand – Load Limit Overshoot = Current Load Limit

380KW – 20 = 360KW

The Current Load Limit is calculated after the Block period has ended and the new Peak Demand has been measured. The new Current Load Limit value will be used as the set point for the next Block.

Why this occurs:

The demand controller should not do load shedding at 320KW when the peak demand has already reached 380KW. Otherwise unnecessary shedding for long periods of time would exhaust the facilities thermal capacity. This would cause the loads to turn on and demand to increase. However, it is reasonable to begin shedding when the Current Demand is 360KW to prevent Peak Demand to be above 380KW.

In the above example, if the Fixed Load Limit was set to 340KW the Highest value the Current Load Limit would reach would be 340KW regardless of the Peak Demand. The system will continue to shed too early affecting Demand Control. The Fixed Load Limit is set to a value close to maximum Peak Demand to ensure it is never reached.

The Fixed Load Limit is a set point that is used by the system throughout the billing year.

Automatic Load Limit Change after Long Periods of Shedding of Many Loads

The demand is high at a facility due to environment, climate and temperature. With systems running at full power the Current Demand has reached 420KW. The system sheds loads for the set shedding period but the Current Demand remains higher than Current Load Limit (say 400KW). The system will increase the Current Load Limit by a Specified Load Limit Increment (50KW) if the following conditions are met:

  • If the number of shedding loads are bigger than “n” (e.g. 4).
  • the loads have been shed for more than a specified time (e.g. 1hour).

Current Load Limit + Specified Load Limit Increment = Next Block Current Load Limit

400KW + 50KW = 450KW

The adjusted Current Load Limit will be used in the next Block.

Why this occurs:

Continuous load shedding will disrupt the thermal capacity of the facility. At the end of the shedding period all systems will come back on simultaneously and Peak Demand will increase due to no gradual start up.

1.0             Definitions

Block : Time period demand is measured.

Current Demand [KW] : Measured demand value during a specific Block.

Current Demand = KWh (measured in block) / Block length (in hours)

Example

Cur.Dem. =  15630KWh-15490KWh / 0.5hr = 140/0.5 =  280 KW

Peak Demand [KW] : Maximum value of Current Demand measured during a billing period.

Example

Billing period is 1 month. Maximum Current Demand is 380KW.

Load Shedding : The process when the system closes normally open contacts, which  are interfaced to units ( e.g. HVAC, Lighting, etc) to reduce the facility Demand.

Load Limit : The Demand limit at which the system starts to shed.

Reset Date: The day and hour (minute) when the Peak Demand and KWh are reset to 0. Determined by the electrical provider.

Example

The first of the month at 0:00.

Minimum Current Load Limit : Load Limit in the beginning of a billing month, just after Reset Date. Usually preset to 20% below Recorded Monthly Peak Demand. Specific Monthly value determined from previous monthly bills.

Recorded Monthly Peak Demand – 20% = Minimum Current Load Limit

Example

400KW- 20% = 320KW

Fixed Load Limit : The maximum possible value of a Current Load Limit.

Example

500KW

Current Load Limit : The value of a Load Limit for a specified Block.

Load Limit Overshoot: The comparing value the system uses to determine if the Current Load Limit should be increased or not. Preset at 20KW.

Specified Load Limit Increment : Increment for a Current Load Limit, if specified number of loads are shed for more than a specified period.

Example

Specified Load Limit Increment selected at 50KW

If more than 4 loads are shed for more than 1 hour the Current Load Limit will be increased by 50KW.

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Does Load Shedding Saves Money?

One approach many companies have taken to reduce energy costs is to exercise some form of load shedding. In this case, certain applications are identified as “deferrable” — to run later in the day, after the peak. These applications will vary by region, but common loads include electric hot-water heaters, air conditioners, fans, lighting zones, etc. A company that has demand controllers, will use a normally open, or closed connection to communicate when to do load shedding. The demand controller only does this type of load shedding when it notices that a demand peak is coming.

While many companies pay a flat rate for electricity year-round, the utility’s costs are anything but flat. In a free market, the wholesale price of energy varies widely throughout the day, every day. Demand Response programs such as those enabled by smart grids attempt to give incentives to the companies to limit usage based upon cost concerns. As cost rises during the day in the supply of electricity as the system reaches peak capacity and more expensive “peaking” power generation is used, a free market economy should allow the price to rise. A corresponding drop in demand for the commodity should meet a fall in price. While this works for predictable shortages, many crises develop within seconds due to unforeseen equipment failures. They must be resolved in the same timeframe in order to avoid a Power blackout. Many utilities who are interested in demand response have also expressed an interest in load control capability so that they might be able to operate the “on-off switch” before price updates could be published to the consumers.

Many companies receive incentives from utilities to do load shedding because it reduces the energy load for the utility. Especially during summer months, the utility has to provide constant electrical power to companies and residential homes. However, when shortages occur, blackouts appear and many people are unhappy.

Therefore, if you are a company and are interested in doing load shedding , one company, EG Energy Controls has sophisticated demand controllers that allows you to see reports and demand usage on the internet. You can change demand setpoints and change sheddable loads. You also can see how much money you are saving per month.

How Does the Utility Calculate How Much Load to Shed?

A plant load factor is a measure of average capacity utilization. It is a measure of the output of a power plant compared to the maximum output it could produce.

The two commonest definitions are:

* the ratio of average load to capacity
* the ratio of average load to peak load in a period.

Assuming the first definition, a higher load factor is better:

* A power plant may be less efficient at low load factors.
* A high load factor means fixed costs are spread over more kWh of output.
* A high load factor means greater total output.

Therefore a higher load factor usually means more output and a lower cost per unit, which means an electricity generator can sell more electricity at a higher spark spread.

If the PLF is affected by non-availability of fuel, maintenance shut-down, unplanned break down and no offtake (as consumption pattern fluctuates lower in nights), the generation has to be adjusted. A power (electricity) storage is not feasible. A generation of power is controlled to match the offtake. For any duration, a power plant generates below its full capacity. To that extent it is a capacity loss.

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