Introduction

Saving energy directly leads to large financial and environmental benefits. Energy Management System’s may help you to reduce energy consumption by up to 20%- 30%.While some companies succeeded at achieving this reduction, others have failed. How is it that few companies are achieving such incredible result with the same technology? This article tries to answer this question and discover a better approach to energy management. I have provided a questionnaire at the end to help you evaluate your organizations effort in energy conservation.

What is an Energy Management System (EMS)?

EMS stands for Energy Management System. As per the old school of thought EMS is a combination of hardware and software that helps you to:

Monitor - Regular collection of information on energy consumption in order to establish a basis for energy management and explain deviations from targets.

Analyze - An information system that stores and analyzes energy-consumption data. It helps you identify trends as to how energy was used at various production levels of a manufacturing process or ambient temperature for a building.

Target - Setting targets to reduce or control energy consumption based on an appropriate standard or benchmark.

Control – Implementing management and technological measures to correct any variances from target. This is a conservative definition of an EMS system and is primarily centered on technology.

According to the improved approach, an Energy Management System (EMS) is people centric. It is incomplete without “Engagement”.

Engagement - The main objective of engagement is to connect user’s actions with energy consumption. By displaying real-time consumption information, users see the immediate impact of their actions. Letting users’ know their real-time consumption alone can be responsible for a substantial reduction in energy consumption.

System Architecture – An EMS consists of smart energy meters, sensors and devices that monitor energy consumption and factors effecting consumption. These devices transmit data over wired or wireless network to a central server. An interactive application helps you in analyzing and reporting information, while engaging users.

Will installing an EMS lead to a 30% reduction in energy consumption?

Usually customers think that installing an EMS system will itself reduce their energy consumption. This is an incorrect view. An EMS in itself has limited capability of reducing consumption, until it is supported by commitment from people running it. EMS has to be supported by proper utilization of the analyzed data. The hardware and software will only be of a limited utility without a supporting management program. You can also delegate this work to an external consultant, who can help you achieve the desired results.

How to choose an Energy Management System?

One of the important prerequisite to success is choosing the right Energy Management System. I have summarized a few points that you should take care of:

  1. Choose an Energy Management System (EMS) vendor who can provide the hardware, software, and consulting support to effectively run the program.
  2. While selecting the energy meters make sure they provide the measurement you require. The meters should have capability to communicate on an open protocol like MODBUS. This will not tie you down to a single hardware or software vendor. You can choose from the following meters:
    • Energy Meter, RMS Meter or Demand Controllers – These provide key parameters like Energy, Power Factor (PF), Demand etc.
    • Network or Energy Analyzers – Additionally these meters provide Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) and/or individual harmonics.

    The Indian Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) requires permanently installed fixed metering based on following three criteria:

    1. Load greater than 1000 kVA - Shall have metering to record demand (kVA), energy (kWh), total power factor, current (in each phase and the neutral), voltage (between phases and between each phase and neutral), and Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) as a percentage of total current.
    2. Load not exceeding 1000 kVA but over 65 kVA - Shall have metering to record demand (kW), energy (kWh), and total power factor (or kVARh)
    3. Load not exceeding 65 kVA -Shall have metering to record energy (kWh)

  3. While selecting the software, keep the following in mind:

    • Try to avoid desktop applications that limit sharing of data to a single location, plant or PC. These applications are poor in engaging users.
    • Energy management software that is built on web technologies is better suited to handle enterprise level sharing and reporting.
    • The software should support engagement through interactive dashboards, email and SMS.
    • A good EMS should be expandable and allow you to monitor other related parameters like temperature, fuel level etc. (via sensors and devices) in conjunction with energy measurement.

How to implement an Energy Management System?

The following steps are involved in implementing an EMS:
  1. Choose a vendor who can provide you a complete solution – Hardware, Software and Consulting
  2. Identify the key areas where energy is being consumed, the plant is broken down into these areas. Generally, most of the energy consumption is concentrated in a small number of processes, like lighting, heating, or certain machinery.
  3. Install individual meters to monitor these areas (load).
  4. Assess what other measurements will be required to analyze the consumption appropriately. This data will be used to chart against the energy consumption: these are underlying factors which influence the consumption, often production (for industry processes) or ambient temperature (for HVAC), but may include many other variables.
  5. Create a communication program to engage the end users. This can be in form of emails, SMS, posters or interactive dashboards.
  6. Create management targets and reports to monitor actual consumption against these targets.
  7. Analyze data collected to identify areas that have consumption higher that the targeted consumption.
  8. Implement controls to reduce consumption in problem areas.

What are the key cost components or services required?

Hardware – Cost of meters, sensors, communication devices etc. that is installed. Software – Licensing or monthly service charge for energy management software. Auditing and Consulting – Cost of consulting services for energy auditing, design, implementation and training.

What is the usual payback period?

Depending upon the size of the facility the usual payback period is 12-24 months.

Evaluate your facility

I have provided a few questions that you can ask inside your organization to evaluate your energy conservation effort.

Q?
1. Do you have a detailed Energy Management Plan in place?
A.
Yes No
Q?
2. Do you monitor and record your energy consumption for different operations or plant area?
A.
Yes No
Q?
3. Have you assigned the energy management responsibility to a person or team that can measure, coordinate and follow-up and see the high level picture?
A.
Yes No
Q?
4. Do you have an Energy Management System in place?
A.
Yes No
Q?
5. Do you have a communication system to engage energy users, visualization that they can understand and act on?
A.
Yes No
Q?
6. Have you ever evaluated your thermal insulation effectiveness?
A.
Yes No N/A
Q?
7. Do you regularly check for compressed air leaks? An air leak, it's a 100% waste of energy and costing you a lot of money!
A.
Yes No N/A
Q?
8. Have you replaced your lighting with fluorescent or LED fixtures?
A.
Yes No N/A
Q?
9. Have you implemented variable frequency drives (VFD’s) for multispeed loads?
A.
Yes No N/A
Q?
10. Do you use synchronous motors or switched capacitors or Automatic Power Factor Control (APFC) to correct the power factor?
A.
Yes No N/A
Q?
11. Do you control resistive loads (cookers, heaters) operation with controllers (like AC Drive controls) designed for resistive loads?
A.
Yes No N/A
Q?
12. Have large plant equipment starting sequenced plant-wide?
A.
Yes No N/A
Q?
13. Do you "harvest" the energy from plant air compressors and refrigeration units to provide heat for another operation?
A.
Yes No N/A
Q?
14. Do you use products like soft starters where large contactors are being implemented?
A.
Yes No N/A
Q?
15. Do you have induction heating system as opposed to furnace or coil heating?
A.
Yes No N/A

If the answer to majority of the questions was “NO” you have a good chance of benefiting from an EMS or energy conservation program.

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