Tom is the former Business Development Director, Airmaster Australia Pty Ltd. Airmaster is a Master-level BMS EcoXpert™.
Following on from my recent blog about how demand response can be both an energy efficient and profitable strategy for business (and home) power users, I wanted to focus on load shedding as another way in which business can help ensure that energy demand in the grid can be met while reducing its own energy costs.
As a Schneider Electric EcoXpert™ Partner, Airmaster is frequently called into situations where customers want to reduce the actual cost of their operations, as well lowering their impact on the planet. Load shedding is one way that can help meet both objectives, whilst ensuring business as usual in all areas.
A good example is a project undertaken at one of Australia’s most famed racecourses. The background is a hugely popular horse racing event which attracts crowds numbering hundreds of thousands, also creating a spike in energy use commensurate with the eating, drinking, gaming and the comfort requirements of such a gathering.
The downside of popularity and success in this case was an annual energy bill based upon this one-off level of power use at a venue which otherwise doesn’t attract people in such great numbers. After taking advice, the course owners implemented a series of measures starting with the installation of sensor-equipped power metering throughout plant equipment at the course in order to measure energy use and power factor.
Once the upgraded system started to generate actionable data, they were able to establish that the primary opportunity for reducing peak demand was via load shedding. And based upon that simple but verifiable piece of information, automated control strategies were introduced which enabled the customer to avail of a $1,000,000 (AUD) cut in their annual energy operating expenses.
For major energy users, these sorts of savings have been made more simple to realize through automated applications and building management software like Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure™.
Three steps to increase the effectiveness of load shedding
Manage Peak Loading
The challenge for any power user, but especially amplified for companies with a large and sometimes unpredictable energy requirement, is managing peak loading. But there are additional strategies which can supplement load shedding, as we can see in the example above. This can include stripping out older, inefficient equipment and replacing it with more modern devices in order to reduce the overall energy demand.
Modernization of Plant & Equipment
Modernization might start with the replacement of fluorescent tubes with LED alternatives in overhead lighting; or changing ubiquitous induction motors for high efficiency variants, and build up to more comprehensive schemes. It sounds easy in principle, but engineers take just pride in keeping things going, lengthening equipment lifecycles through regular maintenance and service. Unfortunately, while this is sound thinking in a throw-away age, we also have to think about the impact of inefficiency on the environment as well as the real cost of ownership (TCO) to the business.
Consider Power Factor
A third consideration, which goes hand in glove with newer and more efficient systems and equipment, is power factor. There’s plenty of useful information about the difference between Active Power (or “working power” measured in kW), and Apparent Power (measured in kVA) – the latter being the power that you pay for and which also includes Reactive Power.
My favorite analogy for power factor, and also one of Australia’s favorite pastimes, is beer. You can find this fully described on the Electrical Engineering Portal, but in short Reactive Power is like the foam on a pint (which in total represents Apparent Power) where the beer itself is Actual Power – the bit worth paying for!
Specifying newer devices with power factor correction helps to reduce the unwanted foam which contributes to peak demand as well as the costs reflected in the annual power bill. In short, it gets you closer to paying for what you use without the additional energy overhead.
As an EcoXpert company, Airmaster is well versed in delivering energy and equipment audits. This is an important first step towards the implementation of controlled and effective load shedding programs to help companies to avoid the penalties associated with excessive peak loads, as well as establish better energy efficiency practices for reduced ongoing operating expenses.
In all circumstances, we’ll help build a full business case to demonstrate an ROI forecast resulting from such modernization programs. For more details, please visit Airmaster Professional Services.