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The Reciprocity of Intelligent Energy Management for Utilities and Commercial Building Owners

By Sveli, Joakim 1. November 2018

The Reciprocity of Intelligent Energy Management for Utilities and Commercial Building Owners

An intelligent energy top system creates a win-win situation for both power grid operators and commercial building owners.

The energy and the buildings sectors have always been mutually dependent on each other. Buildings is the largest energy-consuming sector, requiring a well-functioning energy sector. Conversely, the energy sector depends on proceeds from the buildings sector.

Download for free: The New Era of Energy Efficiency

Today, however, new technology ties the two sectors even more closely together. Higher energy consumption levels, renewable energy sources, and new electrical loads are making grid operations more complex and increasing the need for new grid investments. As a result, new pricing models, such as demand rates, are incentivizing building owners to rethink how they consume energy.

Close cooperation between the two sectors will be of mutual benefit. Through smart building technology and intelligent energy management, the building sector can positively contribute to minimizing capacity problems in the power grid. The energy sector, on the other hand, can contribute to lower energy costs and new revenue streams for the buildings sector by unlocking demand-side flexibility. 

Read also: Transforming EVs. From Challenge to Utility Infrastructure Asset

New Electrical Loads and Demand Rates

Most of us currently base our electricity consumption logic on the principle of preserving the grid and saving money by using less power. The fewer kWhs we use, the better for the planet, our economy, and the people around us. 

With the advent of new technologies such as heat pumps and an increasing number of EVs on our roads, the game changes completely. These devices require significant power levels for short intervals, forcing power grid operators to make costly and time-consuming grid reinforcements. 

To cope with this situation, demand rates are becoming increasingly common. Instead of paying for the amount of energy used during a fixed period, demand rates aim to reduce consumption peaks rather than kWhs, ultimately aiming to reduce the need for grid reinforcements. As consumption during peak hours incurs higher costs, reducing load and consumption during these hours may yield significant cost-saving opportunities; by adjusting their energy consumption to demand rates and energy price variations, building owners defer costs. Not only that, commercial building owners and operators can even store excess energy and sell flexibility back to the grid, opening up new revenue streams.

To get there, however, building operators and owners are dependent on a system that allows them to coordinate and stitch together their various management systems and manage their electricity usage as a whole. This is where intelligent energy management, or a top system, comes into play.

Read also: Save (On) Your Flexibility, Not Your KwHs 

Introducing Intelligent Management Systems

Most buildings today have a broad selection of smart meters. Keeping control of all the generated data is time-consuming, especially when data are stored locally in separate meters or management systems. The more measuring instruments installed in a building, the more resources are required to manage electricity usage as a whole. 

As an example, local production, EV charging, and building automation all have separate systems that do not necessarily communicate with each other. Each component is locked in its own silo and only receives its own data. To understand each component’s usage pattern and overall consumption, building owners must amalgamate all the information from these separate units. 

An intelligent top system driven by artificial intelligence (AI) enables building owners to merge their separate systems into one. Connecting all electricity consumption and production components into this top system provides building owners with the necessary collective overview and enables them to manage all components optimally. 

A top system differs from an energy management system in the way that it not only deals with energy but utilizes external information like calendar data, weather data, and temperature data to better understand, predict, and optimize energy usage for commercial building owners and the grid. It can be described as a holistic system that can generate value for everyone: consumers, commercial building operators, and power grid operators, as well as the environment.

Although the challenges power grid operators and commercial building owners face are different, they are interlinked, and the solution is the same for both. By building intelligence into energy resources management, commercial building owners can run a profitable and environmentally friendly electricity distribution that provides stability for their customers while power grid operators can catalyze their goals through grid asset-liability management. 

If you’d like to learn more about how an intelligent energy top system may help commercial building owners adjust to a new era of energy efficiency while simultaneously positively contribute to the energy system as a whole, you’re more than welcome to download our latest e-book “The New Era of Energy Efficiency: From kWhs to Flexibility” by clicking the link below. 

Download for free:  The New Era of Energy Efficiency

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By: Sveli, Joakim

Joakim Sveli is a Business Manager at eSmart Systems, responsible for the Energy Markets segment. He is an experienced professional working with several issues within the environmental, climate and energy field from the perspective of a consultant, civil servant and in the private sector. His areas of expertise include new concept market entry, charging infrastructure, electric vehicles, public planning and Environmental Management Systems.

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