What are the trends in the energy efficiency sector for 2017
Still not up-to-date on the latest trends in energy efficiency? We are well into 2017 now, three years ahead of the target: 2020, but there are still people who have not had the chance to learn about the 20/20/20 commitment established by the European Union. What is the "20/20/20" commitment? In a nutshell, it is a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 20%, reduce energy consumption by 20% through greater energy efficiency and, finally, promote the use of renewable energies until it reaches 20%.
Many companies around the world are developing new technologies in order to mitigate climate change and between all, create a sustainable future. Therefore, in honour of Sunday 5 March, World Energy Efficiency Day, CIRCUTOR is presenting you with the energy efficiency trends that are having the biggest impact in 2017.
BIG DATA. The classic "information is power"
We are living in the AGE of information and communication, long gone are the days when you had to rely on endless books or paper records in order to look something up. A huge amount of data, of every kind, is now uploaded to the internet. With so much information around, the Big Data approach consists of recording as much information as possible and then processing it so that it can be analysed and acted upon accordingly. But what does Big Data have to do with Energy Efficiency?
With the technological advances in energy analysis; companies, utilities, businesses and homes now have, or could have, complete information about their consumption and its behaviour. In the past, we only had access to the figures that appeared on our electricity bills, now, with the new telemanagement systems and wireless consumption analyzers, we know instantly how much energy we are consuming. New technologies are therefore being developed that apply the Big Data approach, enabling us to perform an energy analysis with the aim of reducing consumption, thus improving energy efficiency.
Smart Cities. Cities that run themselves
Tokyo, New York, Zurich and Paris are leading the way as Smart Cities. Cities where they invest significant amounts in information and communications technology, where all data are logged, or changes or issues are managed remotely and instantly. The aim is to study the behaviour of the city so that its infrastructures can be improved.
As far as energy is concerned, the public authorities and utilities use telemanagement systems to collect consumption data from users and use this to generate an energy demand curve, thus increasing energy savings. There are also smart remote control systems, used for street lights, for example. Thanks to these, the amounts spent on electric energy consumption by the cities and towns in which we live are reduced.
Distributed generation in Smart Cities
For there to be a shift towards energy efficiency, it will be necessary to move from centralised generation to distributed generation. Up until now, electricity has been generated in power plants and transmitted to cities along high-voltage lines.
Distributed generation is a key part of a Smart City and it consists of generating electrical energy in the very point where it is going to be consumed. This term is also known as decentralised or in situ generation. By generating and consuming at nearby points you reduce transmission losses, while improving the management and quality of the grid.
So, in cities like those previously mentioned, it is common to see buildings with sets of photovoltaic panels connected to storage batteries.
The electric vehicle, a reality today
The introduction of electric vehicles represents a massive shift away from mobility as we have known it until now. It not only offers numerous advantages, such as a reduction in air and noise pollution, better air quality in cities, reduced energy dependency, etc., but it also enables the use of electric energy management systems, which in turn enable smart charging, thus improving the overall efficiency of the electrical system.
Smart charging in off-peak hours allows you to flatten the demand curve, so the energy impact and cost are minimal as this occurs during the hours of least consumption. The situation can be further improved, where possible, by integrating the system with renewable energy projects.
Another of the benefits of integrating electric vehicles (EV) in cities is the energy storage function. At times of maximum demand, the EV could deliver energy back to the grid if necessary, thus optimising power generation infrastructures and electrical networks.
Electric energy management from your mobile
As we have seen above, Big Data is becoming an essential system for the energy control of facilities and homes. In recent years, various applications have emerged for mobile devices that allow you to take control of facilities and obtain information about how, where and when you are consuming energy.
In 2017, these applications will have to evolve so that they not only provide data, but also guide users in making decisions and adjusting their consumption through the data displayed on their wireless terminals, automatically helping them to determine how they are consuming energy. This will allow a user to know if their contract with the utility suits their actual needs and if not, they could then switch to one that benefits them financially.
In the future, these applications will connect users to their homes and facilities so that, even when they are not there, they can check any real-time data and even report any incidents that might increase their costs at the end of the month.