Energy management: a profitable path to net zero

While the UK may be just barely climbing out of a recession, we remain in the throes of a global pandemic and on the brink of a major political separation. In the broader business environment, it seems uncertainty is the only certainty we have in the coming year. It is, therefore, vital for UK businesses to look inward for opportunities to save and survive. We look at how energy management could provide a clear path to profitability and carbon neutrality, even in hard times.

 

Waste not, want not

David Attenborough has said one thing everyone can do to help save the planet is “don’t waste anything, don’t waste electricity, don’t waste food, don’t waste power”. Unfortunately, this is more difficult than it sounds. Waste is intrinsically wrapped up in the convenience of our daily lives in small but impactful ways.

Thankfully, it’s becoming common knowledge that a wasteful life isn’t a sustainable one, and a wasteful business plan isn’t a profitable one. Since energy is one of an organisation’s largest costs, efficiency is key in building a resilient foundation for the long term success of a company.

Intelligent energy management is a holistic approach to energy optimisation, involving smart metering, identifying inefficiencies and managing energy-saving solutions. At EIC we don’t just find and fix problems, we seek out opportunities that will support sustainable growth.

Data-driven energy optimisation

The energy grid is evolving, and systems will have to adapt as we move towards a flexible energy landscape. Data-driven energy optimisation could be the key to business profitability as well as deep carbon reductions.

Gathering and understanding data through advanced metering provides insight into how energy is being used and possibly wasted. Identifying these areas of inefficiency is essential for finding solutions that reduce consumption and lower costs. This provides businesses with savings they didn’t know were there, a crucial service in uncertain times such as these.

At EIC we offer a range of services that can revolutionise your utilities. From installing sub metering and innovative lighting solutions to our next generation smart building controls. These systems integrate our clients’ critical energy systems in a single, remotely-managed platform. This means businesses can manage their buildings in real-time, saving valuable time, money, and hassle.

How can we achieve net zero through energy optimisation?

As carbon and climate change risk reporting is made mandatory for companies across the UK, reducing carbon emissions will become a top priority. Whilst carbon capture has been a large part of this conversation, energy efficiency cannot be overlooked as a powerful and cost-efficient decarbonisation tool.

“Energy efficiency is not just about saving energy, it’s about tackling economic, environmental and social issues at the same time.” – Harry Verhaar, Philips lighting

If mitigation methods such as energy efficiency were more widely adopted, they could provide stable carbon reductions across the UK. Over time, this would reduce our reliance on fossil fuels as well as future carbon capture and storage efforts. Not to mention carbon offsets and credits which have their varying degrees of ‘greenness’.

This isn’t to say that capturing carbon won’t have a pivotal part to play in decarbonisation. But these methods can’t be solely relied upon as a silver bullet. Especially not when there are mitigation methods that offer businesses sustainable savings and future economic stability.

The whole package

At EIC we offer comprehensive sustainable energy management. Our goal is to completely optimise our clients’ energy usage, going beyond monitoring and finding sustainable, cost-efficient solutions. These services include green energy procurement and exploring decentralised energy options such as onsite solar generation and battery storage.

Generating your own renewable energy supplies in tandem with battery storage can significantly cut your emissions. As well as generate additional revenue through Demand Side Response (DSR) schemes.

We can also help maximise your CO2 savings and simplify the compliance process so that you don’t get tied up in tricky legislation.

“In this next phase of the energy and carbon markets’ evolution, it will be imperative for UK businesses to get ahead of the legislative curve to maintain and drive profitability. This will mean adopting energy management solutions that pair upstream procurement strategies with downstream optimisation and sustainability strategies.” – Luke McPake, Director of Sales at EIC

Transforming your wider energy strategy to encompass not only efficiency but self-sufficiency will become vital in a recovering economy. And reducing waste of any kind will also be vital in protecting a healing planet. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a sustainable future for your organisation.

Should SMEs conduct an energy audit?

EIC explores the benefits that firms can reap from conducting an energy audit and how to maximise the value of its findings.

Information is power

Energy audits provide firms with a clearer picture of their energy consumption patterns. Also, they can highlight existing points of weakness where wastage may be occurring as well as provide a foundation of knowledge for negotiating new energy procurement contracts.

As we approach the 2050 net-zero deadline, clarity surrounding energy usage – the major driver behind office-based carbon emissions – will become increasingly valuable.

Small to medium enterprises in particular stand to benefit greatly from the help audits can provide. Especially in navigating information barriers that conceal opportunities to improve their energy efficiency.

While a review of an organisations energy portfolio can seem daunting, technology can help lighten the load. Smart meters can keep an ongoing, up-to-date record of energy usage across an entire site.

Employing one of these devices essentially automates the local data-finding necessary to perform an effective audit. Given how vulnerable long-term metering is to human error, this makes their installation a wise first step in the process.

Metering alone can provide average energy savings of 10% and comprehensive sub-metering can raise these savings by a further 30% according to the Carbon Trust.

An on-site walk around compliments the auditing process since it can identify sources of inefficiency missed by meter readings. Old equipment in need of replacement is one common example. Another being wholesale temperature regulation of buildings since this often does not reflect actual occupancy levels in individual rooms.

The fruits of an energy audit

mixed fruitWith the audit complete, realistic energy efficiency targets become foreseeable and have a baseline for comparison of progress. Such a foundation is crucial for effective engagement with carbon compliance schemes like SECR and CCA.

Firms might follow up by installing site-wide building management systems that can provide further clarity on utility consumption.

Such a system can remotely govern space occupancy, dynamic temperature regulation and air quality from a single platform. The latter of these also affects the health and productivity of those within. Thus, intelligent air quality management can represent a twofold investment.

EIC understands the potential of informed utility management, hence why it provides all these services under a single banner.

Whether it be by supporting data collation with expert metering guidance or exploiting the discoveries that an audit yields with a single-platform building management system, EIC can provide the technical expertise needed for enterprises to maximise the benefit of an energy audit.

 

Success is negative: Carbon negative office spaces

EIC explores the carbon-negative office spaces that are emerging, their role in the green recovery and the technology that make them possible.

Favour the bold

The path to net zero is fraught with obstacles and among these is the carbon intensive nature of the mainstream construction sector. Materials like concrete are extremely resource intensive to produce.

While often offset on a citywide scale, some firms are beginning to focus on the buildings themselves and work sustainability into their initial designs.

Blazing the smoke-free trail are Norwegian architects Snøhetta, who will design exclusively carbon-neutral buildings over the next decade.

The aim is then that from 2030 onwards, Snøhetta will focus on creating carbon-negative designs.

Carbon negative structures either generate more energy than they consume, or sequester more carbon than they produce. The figure includes expenses from initial  construction and materials, as well as operation and decommissioning.

Elusive costs like these are problematic, with 85% of building emissions generated by materials and construction, before the structure is ever used.

“For the next 10 years, we have the ambition of having projects on the table that will become CO2 negative in the cradle-to-cradle definition… This means we have to understand the embodied energies and all the materials used.”

-Snøhetta co-founder Kjetil Thorsen

Balancing the books

Since less intensive materials suited to large scale construction are not yet widely available, balancing through generation will be key.  Solar is central to Snøhettas plans, with structures taking about 60 years to hit carbon negative with embedded generation. The architect recently completed its Powerhouse Brattørkaia project, which boasts an identical timeline for net negative. The Powerhouse also sports a cutting edge ‘wedge’ shape designed to maximise exposure to the sun’s rays.

While this may seem like a life sentence for business leaders, it is refreshing that groups like Snøhetta are beginning to think in terms of multi-generational gains.

Bywater Properties are leading a similar development project aimed to create the lowest-carbon workplace in London. The office, named ‘Paradise’ for the road it occupies: Old Paradise Street. Supermarket, Iceland has already secured the majority of this space, planting a green flag for the brand in the minds of its customers.

My generation

It is no secret that the attraction of short-term gains have significantly contributed to the environmental challenges we now face.

However, vision extending beyond the next board meeting can help transform the UK and global economy to reach net zero. Carbon negative buildings are a part of that vision.

Unfortunately, that can feel exclusionary to firms that have already established their sites and do not have the luxury of completely retrofitting them.

The complex, modular nature of structures does mean that while carbon negative may not be feasible, ‘carbon-light’ might be possible.

Intelligent building control is one of the most effective ways to improve your carbon profile. Primarily because it streamlines the carbon-producing elements of a building, mainly utility consumption, and shrinks carbon footprint as a result.

A holistic ally in carbon reduction is the addition of green spaces to working environments, since these also sequester carbon.

On-site generation further reduces your reliance on the grid and the subsequent sequestered carbon in meeting demand – particularly across long distances.

Other benefits include improved energy supply security, added leverage in procurement talks and a better carbon profile for crucial legislation.

EIC understands that intelligent building design and frugality around resource-use work in hand in glove. As such, EIC offers a comprehensive carbon service combining building management, intelligent procure and compliance acumen.

Marriage of these three pillars means unlocking the full potential of sites, and leveraging for the benefit of all. EIC’s full offering is on its services page.

 

 

 

 

Control the clock change in an instant

The seasonal trend towards higher demand during the colder, darker winter months will accelerate as a result of the clock change. This will place pressure on power margins and could lead to spikes in electricity prices, should supplies struggle to meet the higher demand.

 

Energy demand will jump but the downward trend continues

Current forecasts indicate the peak demand for the week following the clock change will be 9% higher than the previous week. Consumption is set to increase by nearly 4GW to more than 45GW overall as an earlier sunset (around 4:30pm) increases lighting requirements during the traditionally higher post-work demand period. If so, this would be the highest percentage change on record, with the 3.8GW rise nearly three times larger than the demand bump seen in 2015 or 2014.

However, the ongoing trend in reduced energy consumption has continued, meaning that demand is rising from a far lower base. Expected demand before this month’s clock change is 6GW lower than the most recent peak in 2015.

Furthermore, the expected post-clock change peak is the lowest on record.

 

Weekday Peak Demand for October

Demand – Week before Clock Change (GW) Demand – Week After Clock Change (GW) Difference (GW) Increase (%)

2018*

41.4 45.2 3.8 9%

2017

42.8

46.4

3.6

8%

2016

44.3

46.9

2.6

6%

2015

47.4

48.7

1.3

3%

2014 45.9 47.2 1.3

3%

2013 46.3 48.2 1.9

4%

*Forecasted figures

 

Improvements in energy efficiency have been reducing electricity use for the last 10 years. A large part of the reduction in peak demand has been the use of new smart technology, resulting in more efficient appliances that are able to do more with less. A switch away from incandescent light bulbs is also a contributing factor, particularly during the winter months, when lighting demand plays a far increased role in consumption.

 

Aside from a well-documented cold snap in February and March (remember the Beast from the East?) peak demand during 2018 has been largely below that of previous years, continuing a consistent year-on-year reduction in consumption overall.

 

React to changes in real-time with smart building controls

How can you ensure time-consuming but critical processes affected by the clock change are carried out efficiently?

IoT controls can help you alter site settings remotely, so you’re in full control when the clocks change. There’s no need to make arduous manual changes – with IoT, you can make the necessary changes at the touch of a button.

With our Building Energy Management solution, we’re introducing the next generation of smart building controls. Our innovative solution brings together the required technologies to integrate all your critical energy systems. This enables your business to access real-time insights on key energy and building systems via single, remotely-managed platform.

To find out more about our IoT-enabled Building Energy Management controls call us on 01527 511 757 or download our brochure.

 

A smarter way to avoid Triads

Each year from November to the end of February, National Grid use peak demand data to calculate how much energy users should pay in electricity transmission charges as part of the Transmission Network Use of System (TNUoS) scheme. To avoid higher costs you can undertake Triad avoidance.

What are Triads?

Triads are the three half-hour periods with the highest demand between 1 November and the end of February, identified by National Grid. Each Triad must be separated by at least 10 days. This means consecutive days of high demand won’t result in multiple Triads. Businesses that reduce their usage during these high demand points will lower their future electricity transmission costs.

You can find out if your business is affected by Triads here.

 

How will you know when to act?

Our Triad Alert Service monitors different influencers to predict the likelihood of any particular day being a Triad and automatically sends that information promptly to our clients. You can then take informed action to avoid high usage during these more costly half-hour periods, while minimising disruption to your everyday activity. Our daily report can help you plan ahead with an overview of the next 14 days alongside a long-term winter outlook.

Find out more about our Triad Alert service here.

 

We’ve got a Triad and tested track record

Predicting Triads is very challenging; falling demand and changing usage patterns mean Triads are no longer guaranteed to occur at the height of winter. Season 2017/18 included the latest Triad on record and weakest demand levels since the early 1990s.

We’ve helped hundreds of clients avoid these transmission costs by providing them with the tools needed, giving EIC an enviable track record in Triad prediction. Previously, one client saved £800,000 by acting on insight from our Triad Alert service.

Last season we hit all three Triad periods, issuing just nine red alerts, lower than any other TPI or supplier – a testament to our in-house technology, analytics, and expertise. Of course, calling an alert every weekday would generate a 100% success rate but we recognise the negative impact this would have. Businesses could incur major damage to their revenues if required to turn down production each day for a quarter of the year ‘just in case’.

By issuing fewer alerts we ensure our clients are not unnecessarily disrupted from their day-to-day activities. Those that took action in response to our alerts last season cut demand by an average of 15% compared to standard peak-period half-hour consumption.

 

Intelligent buildings, smarter business

By forecasting when Triads will occur, we empower our clients to take control of their consumption to reduce their energy use and lower their bills. Businesses can react to our Alerts simply by cutting demand during suspected Triad times or by load-shifting.

Load-shifting involves moving the most energy-intensive tasks of the day to a time when it’s less likely that a Triad will occur, for example early in the morning. This enables you to avoid Triads without reducing your overall daily energy use. Building controls make this easier. With our IoT-enabled Building Energy Management solution, we’re introducing the next generation of smart building controls. Our innovative solution brings together the required technologies to integrate your critical energy systems with a single, remotely-managed platform. This means you can manage your buildings in real-time.

The Triad season begins on 1 November. To find out more about our Triad Alert service click here call 01527 511 757 or email info@eic.co.uk.

Britain running on sunshine as summer demand falls

The changes have come from an evolution in how energy is being used, and those who successfully manage these demand patterns, particularly if combined with Demand Side Response (DSR), could see significant cost savings.

Analysis from EIC has shown that maximum summer demand (seen between May and August) has fallen 17% in the last decade. From a peak of 44GW in 2012, maximum consumption for the current summer has fallen to just 35GW.

This near 10GW loss in demand is similar to the reduction seen during the winter. Furthermore, it’s not only peak consumption that’s been reduced but baseload generation. Minimum summer demand has fallen by 19% since 2009. How much of this is down to efficiency improvements or consumption moving behind the meter is unclear. However, the change does mean National Grid has nearly 10GW less electricity demand to manage on its transmission network.

The trend can be seen more clearly when broken down by month. Average peak demand during May 2012 was over 39GW. This year that figure was just 31.5GW, a reduction of over 7GW in only six years.

Improving energy efficiency

The cost of LED lighting halved between 2011 and 2013. During this time, consumers switching towards the more efficient bulbs helped facilitate a strong drop in demand. This could be helped further with news that the EU will ban the use of halogen lightbulbs from 1 September 2018.

Another major explanation for the demand drop, aside from efficiency improvements in appliances and lighting, is the significant growth in small-scale on-site solar capacity over the same period. Small-scale distribution connected solar has a capacity of under 4KW but the number of installations has grown from under 30,000 in 2010 to nearly 900,000 in 2018. An increase of almost 2,900%.

The total capacity of the small-scale solar now available is over 2.5GW, which is not far off the total capacity for the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.

As the use of small-scale solar (the type typically installed on housing or commercial property) has grown demand has fallen. More and more of within-day demand is being met by onsite generation. Consumers can take advantage of the bright and warm summer weather conditions to generate their own solar power, thus reducing the call for demand from the transmission network.

The solar impact

The introduction of high volumes of solar generation to the grid – total capacity across all PV sites is over 13GW – has also significantly altered the shape of demand. Consumption across a 24 hour period has flattened in recent years.

The traditional three demand peaks (morning, early afternoon, and evening) have shifted closer to the two peak morning and early evening winter pattern. The ability to generate high levels of embedded – behind the meter – generation during the day in the summer has flattened and at times inverted the typical middle peak. This has left the load shape peaking in early morning (as people wake up) and later in the evening, as people return home from work.

The absolute peak of the day has also shifted in time, moving from early afternoon to the typical early evening peak of 5-5:30pm, again similar to the winter season.

The below graph shows the change over time of the July load shape, which highlights both the reduction in demand and the change in shape, with consumption flattening during daylight hours as a result of behind the meter solar generation dampening network demand. With electricity costs – both wholesale and system – reflecting supply and demand, if consumption is being changed, then it also has an impact on these costs.

Stay informed with EIC

Our in-house analysis highlights the impact of onsite generation on load patterns and the extent to which demand can be changed by taking action, and subsequently how behaviours can alter a business’ energy costs.

If you can shift demand away from historical high consumption periods, you can cut your energy costs and make significant savings. One such way to do this is by using smart building controls, such as our IoT-enabled Building Energy Management solution.

To find out more download our brochure, call +44 1527 511 757, or email us.

A new era for energy and building management

The building management industry is on a path to converge with IT and, with the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), a world of opportunities has opened up.

How many of us used Uber to order a taxi, or Air BnB to book accommodation five years ago? New technology isn’t only disrupting the way we live, but also the way we work. In fact, 76% of businesses believe that IoT is critical to their future success.

At EIC the aim is to help businesses reduce their utilities consumption and energy-related costs. And, as IoT connects ever more devices, we’re using cutting-edge solutions to revolutionise how you run your business. In short, thanks to IoT, traditional building management systems (BMS) as we know them are a thing of the past. There’s never been a better time to upgrade your energy management strategy – but how?

We want to transform the way you control, monitor, meter, and manage your energy and water usage, as well as your sites’ critical business systems. To do this, we’ve teamed up with leading tech giants O2 and Intel to launch our IoT-enabled Building Energy Management solution. The partnership unites the technologies needed to integrate a businesses’ critical energy systems with a single, remotely-managed platform. With instant access to actionable data insights, buildings can be managed in real-time.

Through our smart controls solution, you’ll have the power to implement, amend, and manage control strategies on a wide portfolio of sites from the single touch of a button.

 

Together, through IoT controls, we can provide you with; 

  • Full integration. View, manage, and control your energy consumption and your buildings’ critical business systems in one place with a cohesive, joined-up strategy that includes energy, water, security, heating, lighting, access control systems, and point of sale.
  • Real-time data. Access your building’s data 24/7/365, anytime and anywhere, from desktop to smartphone.
  • Actionable insights. Transform your utilities data into useable information, helping reduce your energy consumption, improve energy efficiency, and better control your costs.
  • Simple and quick implementation with minimal disruption. We can set up our equipment in minutes and there’s no need to re-wire. In fact, once we’re set up you can turn off your old systems. 
  • Valuable savings. Cut your operating costs by up to 20%, even on your most efficient buildings. ROI for our solution is typically under 12 months, in an industry where up to five-year paybacks are commonplace.
  • A truly bespoke solution. We can design a platform to connect, configure, and control what you need, specific to your business strategy and requirements.

 

By giving business owners and building managers unprecedented insight into how their buildings are using energy, they can make truly informed decisions about how to reduce their utility bills. Our IoT controls solution will leave you with intelligent buildings and a smarter business, giving you the potential to unlock huge savings, freeing up cash to be invested elsewhere.

For a taster of what our Building Energy Management solution can do for you, download our brochure and start your journey to a better-connected future.