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Relieving soaring costs through IoT energy intelligence

10 June 2022

The global energy cost crisis and race to net zero mean it's critical for industry to gain 360-degree visibility of their site-wide energy consumption, says Jakob Gossmann

WITH THE soaring price of energy and climate action urgency, it's time to go all the way on energy and operational efficiency –  reaching beyond the quick-win savings you may have already exhausted.  

This requires a complete understanding of how, when and where you are using energy across your entire site –  from utility meters and on-site generators – right down to an equipment and process level.

By using Internet of Things (IoT) energy insights technology to capture, analyse and visualise energy consumption across your site and production processes  – you can build an integrated energy management strategy to deliver on your commercial, operational and environmental goals.

After all, if your energy intelligence is lacking, how can you understand where waste is occurring and the best opportunities to make savings and improve your energy security? How can you use power more flexibly to reduce bills and generate revenue? 

Real-time energy intelligence will tell you exactly how much you are spending and on what specific asset or process across your operations. Armed with this information, you can make better informed business decisions to deliver impressive  cost, carbon and production savings. 

IoT energy insights technology

IoT technologies enable you to gain deeper energy insights at a circuit-level of granularity. This works by linking a cloud-based analytics platform to both utility meters and wireless sensors that monitor critical assets, such as energy intensive equipment and processes, HVAC components, lighting and cooling systems, etc.

The self-powered sensors are non-invasive and can be speedily snapped onto the outgoing electrical wire that powers each device, without disrupting operations.

The sensors and 3rd party utility meters, together with any distributed generation assets, continuously collect critical energy intelligence. Data is delivered in real-time to an energy management platform, such as our PowerRadar system, which sits at the heart of our customers' energy strategies. This platform creates a single, holistic view of your energy footprint – providing up-to-date visibility of energy performance, at the required level of detail. 

In this way you can holistically manage consumption to inform your sustainable energy and operational strategies and deliver the following benefits: 

1. Minimise your energy costs 

Record high global energy prices, rising carbon taxes, higher raw material, labour and regulatory costs; together with customer pricing pressures, are hitting profit margins. 

By monitoring your energy usage at a device-level, hidden areas of waste can be identified – creating opportunities for high impact energy efficiency improvements that can reduce costs and help mitigate the impact of higher tariffs. Energy insights can also inform and influence employee behaviour change to further improve energy performance.

Magna is using PowerRadar insights to drive multiple benefits, including significant cost savings, while textile specialist, Pincroft, has used our IoT energy insights solution to transform how it manages energy across its operations. Non-intrusive Panoramic Power sensors were deployed, collecting real-time energy data from over 100 sources across their critical energy-consuming assets. In addition, they were also able to capture third party meter data to monitor hot and cold water, steam and gas, alongside their production lines output.

The company has reduced weekend energy spend by 94% and weekday energy spend by 29% ¬- putting it on track to achieve annual CO2 savings of 648 tonnes. This delivered a payback on investment in just three months. 

2. Reduce your carbon footprint

Consuming less energy means lower carbon emissions, enabling industry  to work towards net zero targets and respond to increasing environmental pressures from consumers, regulators and other stakeholders. 

The Altex Group is using our IoT energy insights solution to cut energy costs by 8%, while reducing CO2 emissions by 53,553 tons.   Our wireless sensors were used in each production facility to capture the energy consumption data of refrigeration equipment, air compressors, cooling towers, evaporators and other critical assets. 

It was identified that energy usage could be reduced if timers were used to switch equipment off during non-operational hours, which has reduced energy consumption by 4%. A further 12% reduction in energy consumption has also been achieved by analysing different sequencing of compressor operation to optimise their usage.

3. Improve operational efficiency and resilience

One of the biggest benefits of using device-level data in industry is improved operational efficiency and business resilience. Anomalies picked up by the energy analytics software can be symptomatic of deep-lying faults in equipment, or weaknesses in operational performance that are difficult to detect.

Data intelligence can also inform maintenance requirements, including predictive 24/7 alerts, to reduce downtime, increase productivity and extend asset life. It's sometimes possible to identify potential equipment failures even before they happen. 

We partnered with a global building materials supplier to measure energy use and pinpoint consumption across different equipment, buildings and plant. By monitoring real-time energy usage of critical energy-hungry machinery and using our analytics platform to examine the data, we identified that a conveyor motor was not working correctly. This was creating a bottle neck in the process. Fixing this achieved an annual £211,383 operational and energy saving at just one location. Further cost savings have been made through identifying unnecessary out-of-hours energy use across buildings and plants.

4. Optimise and monetise energy flexibility

Data insights also inform opportunities to use energy flexibly to reduce costs and generate revenue. For example, businesses gain a clear understanding of how they can shift loads to avoid peak time power costs and where they have flexible power capacity to generate revenue from Demand Side Response (DSR) activities and other trading opportunities. 

Our IoT energy analytics technology is underpinning the flexibility and market optimisation strategy of a leading UK paper manufacturer.  By capturing data from  meter points, BEMs systems and their Combined Heat and Power plant, the company has complete visibility over energy usage from across the entire site and is able to identify efficiency and flexibility opportunities. By integrating this technology with our AI enabled utility optimisation platform, we are managing market opportunities to unlock significant revenue streams for the company and help them to rebalance the wider grid network.

5. Simplify energy and carbon reporting

With increasing regulatory and legislative oversight of Scope1, 2 and 3 emissions, having a proactive approach to monitoring and measuring your energy consumption ensures a clear view of your emission sources and effective compliance. 

Detailed data can also be collated across multiple sites and reports downloaded for environmental and fiscal reporting, for example to assist compliance with the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) or Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) and the new Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

6. Inform energy investment

Another powerful reason for higher level energy monitoring is to inform energy efficiency improvements and make the most of existing resources. This is particularly important as industry moves towards more sophisticated methods of demand reduction. By optimising data, you can  understand your energy priorities and build an accurate and convincing case for capital investment in distributed energy solutions, such as renewable generation and battery storage. You can  also able to base equipment sizing and specification on accurate energy consumption figures. 

Jakob Gossmann is customer success manager EMEA & APAC at Centrica Business Solutions

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Tel: 01753 494000