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Monday, 6 April

Getting Your Head In The Cloud

Energy managed via the Cloud

It's time to get your head around energy data management operating as a Cloud service that can be deployed to  a much wider audience, more cheaply and with greater variety of information, writes Mike McCloskey.

Key to creating value is not just the production of a greater data set or more advanced analytics but design thinking. The danger is more data leads to more uncertainty and less focus on the end prize.

For instance, I find a customer rarely asks for a solution to reduce vacant energy (using energy when the building is near enough unoccupied) instead they normally ask for a facility that allows them to view half hourly charts across all their meters.

However, with some design thinking, we can go one step further which is straight to the answer. Provided we have the opening and close times of the office, the energy consumption data at a HH granularity plus the costs in price per unit (PPU).

So, for one client the ideal outcome that puts the customer in control is a solution that just sends an email to any stakeholders or building managers who breach their limit of energy usage at night set against a corrective target. Any energy waste can be stamped out pretty much the following day through a brief conversation.


Moving to the new world

In the old world, data was siloed, now data can be shared within the firm and externally to provide broader insights.

So, the sharing of meter data for each site in a timely fashion allows the individual responsible for the execution of the procurement strategy better insight. It also allows them to project forward future demand and costs more accurately.

More precise energy consumption patterns of each site, plus the expected forecast by consumption by region aggregated up, should allow the energy supplier to reduce energy imbalance costs. In the new world everyone can win.


Meeting environment, sustainability and governance targets

In the new world reducing consumption and cost should be a sensible and achievable objective, especially with automated meter reads.

But the modern corporation is now increasingly held to account by its shareholders to meet the highest environmental and sustainability goals. To attain these requires investment.

Investment might be in educating staff so they realise the impacts of energy waste, thus changing their consumption behaviour. It might also include capital investments such as LEDs investment, solar or even substantial building refurbishment.


Why not

Investments might be made externally too. Why not source green energy directly via a power purchase agreement. Why not source green gas too if you can?


Business case

The pros and cons of all the above strategies need to be logically set out and the business case properly understood.

Importantly, scenarios also need to be played back to decision makers in a digestible fashion. What happens if energy wholesale prices rise or fall? What happens if network costs continue to rise? How can an organisation meet longer term objectives such as carbon neutrality by a certain date? What does the company need to do and by when to meet such a target?

Here, once again, some design thinking will ensure that the complexity associated with deep data analysis is digestible and presentable to key stakeholders in order to get vital investments across the line.


The prize

So, in summary, more granular meter data alongside key site information leads to a better near-term energy performance and is also a vital part of the story that drives compelling business cases for future investments to meet an organisations’ overall goals and targets.

Getting easy access to the data is the first and vital step on the journey but without some design thinking the danger is analysts might lose sight of the overall prize.      

The author is the co-founder of Utlidex. He says: "We want to change things for the better for energy and financial market participants. Innovation and cloud technology is at the heart of what we do and we continue to collaborate with our customers and partners to explore new ideas and opportunities to improve our products."

Picture: Energy managed via the Cloud

Article written by Brian Shillibeer


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