Carbon emissions and fossil fuels have become some serious social issues, and interest in efficient energy consumption is also increasing. Lowering electric bills is another motivation for the emphasis on energy efficiency.
In today’s posting, let me show you some of the top software available for energy efficiency from the generation of electricity to its consumption.
An electricity system refers to the entire system where electricity is generated and consumed, and it consists of a generation facility as well as transmission lines, substations, and distribution lines where generated power is transmitted and distributed. Electricity systems have always generated and consumed energy at the same time. In other words, the power supply and consumption has to match exactly in order to keep the system stable.
Korea experienced a cyclical blackout on September 15th of 2011. The generators went under examination as the national power consumption was assumed to drop after a big holiday season, but the temperature went up unexpectedly and power consumption skyrocketed.
Once the power supply gets lower than consumption, the voltage and utility frequency in the electricity system also decrease. This can cause malfunctions and breakdowns in electronics that are designed for the domestic standard of 60Hz.
When an electric supply is tremendously short, the generator itself may stop working. Once it stops, it may take quite a while to have it up and running again.
A cyclical blackout is a way to keep power grids from breaking down completely by cutting the power in different regions at different times.
Since experiencing a cyclical blackout, there have been multiple studies conducted in order to solve the imbalance between energy supply and demand that may occur in the future while enhancing energy efficiency. One of the best examples of this was the creation of a smart grid, which can manage the electricity system effectively by fusing it with ICT (Information and Communication Technology).
The electricity system so far has been taking the one way method by which the generated electricity is consumed through the receptor. The smart grid adopted the two-way system by enabling a data exchange between the power supplier and consumers through an AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure).
With this smart grid, the power supplier can get data on power consumption, and the receptors can get information on such things as electricity rates according to current power consumption.
The smart grid also enables automated demand management through an ‘automated demand response’ function. The receptors save power while it is cheaper using batteries on the electric vehicles, and then resells it during the hours when electricity rates go up.
The smart grid improves renewable energy efficiency as well. Renewable energy generation such as solar and wind power generation is affected by the weather and air volume, and therefore cannot generate energy stably. The facilities and equipment also have to be distributed over a large area, so it was difficult to link renewable energy generation to the existing power grids.
With an electricity system operating through a smart grid, the renewable energy generator and the control center exchange data in real time. By doing so, the renewable energy generation can be connected and disconnected anytime according to the power situation.
The issue of having equipment and facilities scattered around can be solved by having the generator supply energy to the nearby customer directly and by improving transmission and distribution efficiency.
Once ICT is fused into an electricity system and implemented through software, the functions that used to be considered impossible are now becoming possible. Such phenomenon is not only happening in the electricity systems, but also in the buildings we live in.
Let’s have a look at an example where buildings improve energy efficiency through software.
In buildings without an energy management system implemented through software, staff members have to manually work in order to save energy, such as changing temperature on air conditioners, starting or stopping certain equipment, changing lighting levels, and letting air in from outside.
Such energy conservation methods not only require multiple people for execution, but also do not show exactly how much energy is being saved. The fact that it is difficult to figure out what needs to be done to save energy is another problem, because it is hard to know where exactly energy is being wasted to begin with.
Building Energy Management System (BEMS) was introduced in order to overcome these limits and manage energy consumption more effectively. BEMS notifies users how much energy is being used in the building in real time.
Simply knowing how much is being used itself can help you understand where the power is being wasted, which is crucial in creating an effective energy conservation plan.
BEMS also supports various automatic control functions according to data gathered by sensors and facilities. Using this automatic control function enables efficient energy management by helping management staff work effectively in creating perfect conditions (temperature, lighting, level of energy consumption).
There are two most essential automatic control functions in the system. One is the enthalpy control for air conditioning which utilizes the air from outside when the indoor enthalpy calculated with temperature and humidity is higher than that of outside.
Another one is the energy conservation control which temporally or cyclically stops the heat generating equipment once the air inside the building qualifies a set condition. These functions are applied to optimize the energy consumption of the building.
Factories can have their energy management systems set like the building mentioned above, and it is called FEMS (Factory Energy Management System).
This is the system that manages factories in which multiple facilities are being operated and many different types of energy are being used. It provides visible real-time data on energy consumption, automatic control, and analysis/report functions just like BEMS does.
The areas that FEMS manages aren’t limited to the ones using electricity, but the focus of essential functions has been on enhancing energy efficiency to cut down on electric rates.
In Korea, FEMS energy conservation function is closely connected to the electric rate for industrial use, and it has to be firstly understood in order to grasp the energy efficiency plan FEMS has.
The industrial electric rate (as is the household and general electric rate system) is divided into basic rate and meterage rate calculated according to the electric meter. The proportion of basic rate for industry electricity is much higher than that of households.
Basic rate for industrial electricity is calculated based on the maximum demand among the changed rates of December, January, February, July, August, and September of 2014. The maximum demand is measured every 15 minutes.
The energy charge differs according to the option each consumer chooses, but usually divides a day into light-load, middle-load, and maximum-load hours and charges different rates based on when the energy was consumed. The rate is the highest during maximum-load hours and lowest during the light-load hours.
FEMS provides the peak-cut and load-shift functions to lower the electric bills. The peak-cut function uses the energy that was stored on ESS when peak electricity demand is expected to occur. It also limits unnecessary energy use during this time so that the peak is cut and so is the basic rate.
Load-shift function utilizes ESS to save energy during the light-load hour and uses it during the maximum-load hour. It also reschedules certain tasks that aren’t necessary during the maximum-load hour to the middle-load or light-load hour to lower the meter rate.
It was quite difficult to gather data in real time and control the system automatically in factories before FEMS, so maximum-load prediction and automatic control was almost impossible. By having the software linked to the factory, it is becoming more of an intelligent industrial site.
When ICT is connected to an existing power grid which used to be only about generation, transmission, distribution, and consumption a facility can overcome the issues of inefficient production, consumption, and storage, as well as supply instability.
Power grids are turning into smart grids with various new possibilities, and buildings and factories are also adopting software systems for efficient energy management by utilizing energy which used to be wasted.
We call this system, which improves the energy efficiency, EMS (Energy Management System). In the next posting, we will cover various types of EMS and their functions in detail.
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Written by Dong-young Shin, senior researcher at Smart Green Solution Institute