I have been in this industry a long time and have seen an tremendous evolution of energy management over the years. The pedal is to the metal now with technology, sustainability and education moving along at a rapid pace. So in the grand scheme of things I would like to offer a personal overall perspective how I now see energy management.
At the core of coarse are metering and sensor technologies along with sophisticated control devices. The IoT will allow for more points of data and control that we ever dreamed about 20 years ago. In another 10 to 20 years these points will be accessed by multiple systems and multiple users in real time.
The next logical process to the view are the building management and SCADA systems that interface with these devices in order to maintain an operational balance between cost effective performance and effective human environments. Equipment failure and human intervention will cause this to go out-of-balance at some point in time.
Then we introduce in solar, cogeneration, combine heat and power, wind, fuel cells, battery storage and more into the operations so now there is a different complexity to the situation. These introductions also bring the utility into the picture with policies and market programs such as Demand Response and Demand Side Management that provide revenue or savings back to the end customers and their operators.
Now comes the data integration part of the process where the control data, metering data, utility billing data, weather data and facility information data such as occupancy, holidays, utility events, product output and more must come together and provide analytics and actionable items. These systems are many, operate on many platforms and may be specialized in the particularly facility venue such as schools, manufacturing, office buildings and more. This is where the ‘Big Data’ of energy management begins and where the focus of understanding how to get more out of the operations and controls of the facility. And more. Used wisely this information can help to lower your peak demands, lower your baselines and most of all lower your costs.
Now having said all of the above, how can we manage energy without managing the physical assets being monitored and doing the monitoring (ala, meters, sensors and relays). Maintenance systems have been around a while but I am not sure how much they have been used in the energy management process. Preventative and predictive maintenance of a facilities assets can be greatly enhanced with utility data so if there is a process why not use it and if there is not why not put one in place. Faulty controls, sensors, meters and relays can cost more in the decision making process than ignoring them.
Over the last several years sustainability programs have been evolving to provide corporations more social visibility and overall view of their environmental concerns and performance. This is where the energy data and performance data provide a great deal of input. Not just on the financial side but on the Green House Gas side of the reports. Sustainability provides an additional case for energy management that did not exist several years ago.
This summary can run on with much more detail but is intended only to generate some larger thoughts on energy management. The above drawing is a clear visual of this process and shows a size and scope of what energy management can be. These circles encompass various levels of personnel and skill sets in an organization that all must be engaged to have what could true energy efficiency. How active are you or you want to be in these functional areas?