Getting the right approach

Controlling and reducing energy consumption is a key driver for organisations wanting to cut their fuel bills, lower carbon emissions and reduce exposure to fluctuating energy prices. Jeremy Dodge, Head of Marketing & Technical Services for Marshall-Tufflex looks at why there is a growing trend towards a more intelligent approach to achieving these goals.

Marshall-Tufflex Energy Management has been at the vanguard of this drive, advocating that our customers carry out a robust energy audit before implementing power and carbon saving initiatives. For many larger organisations this approach has been standard for a number of years. We are, however, now seeing it adopted by a wider range of customers who recognise the value of fully understanding their energy profile in order to make the best, most informed, decisions on how to reduce and control usage.

Organisations need to know exactly how, where and when their power is being used and there’s no better way of achieving this than by sub-metering, an established, straightforward and effective method of pinpointing electricity usage plus, in some cases, water and gas consumption too.

Sub-metering is simply the measurement of utilities after they have entered a building. It can be of use for virtually any business concerned about its energy costs, for example manufacturers, commercial premises, retail outlets, schools, hotels etc. It is a highly accurate way of measuring consumption across a whole building, by floors or departments or to monitor usage of individual machines and pieces of equipment. Not only will it reveal precise details of power use, it can identify inefficient areas of operation, perhaps highlighting machinery that requires maintenance or that is nearing the end of its life and therefore using more electricity.

Informed decisions

Armed with tangible results, organisations can make properly informed decisions on energy cost reduction strategies. Energy costs are typically one of the top three spends for most organisations but in many cases commercial and industrial operations are unable to determine exactly where this cost is incurred. The first step has to be pinpointing where and when energy is consumed not only to enable users to identify potential waste but also to help forecast anticipated cost and carbon savings.

That said, some MTEM Sinergy sub-metering customers make use of monitors to check electricity bills (a school saved thousands of pounds by identifying a meter reader incorrectly applying a 10x multiplier factor to the wrong meter), implement a cost centre charging programme or identify machinery/equipment that is running inefficiently. Sinergy has also saved customers many thousands of pounds by identifying spare capacity on mains feeds and we’ve even been asked to install sub-meters to investigate abnormal overnight power draw at a leisure facility, which duly discovered its cleaners were using floodlights for a break at 2am each day.

Another Sinergy client had signed up for a STOD (Seasonal Time of Day) tariff from its power supplier. This tariff had no demand charges but a high penal unit charge in winter weekday late afternoon periods. Daily reports detailing electrical usage were required to help the company ameliorate the worst effects of this tariff. A Sinergy sub-metering system allowed the business to measure power usage. The information gathered was shared with managers across the site who not only protected the company’s exposure to the penal rate but also achieved savings amounting to 20% of total units consumed simply by being made aware of actual load profiles.

It is, however, important to remember that sub-metering will not deliver cost savings, it simply provides the information to allow organisational change to be made.

Fixed, portable and wireless

There are a number of sub-metering solutions on the market, including MTEM’s Sinergy range, which includes fixed and portable systems and those which require data collected manually to those which report their findings automatically. Systems that report wirelessly over the GSM network (for example Singery Pulse Plus) are creating the biggest buzz at the moment. Designed for geographically dispersed locations under the same management (retail outlets, healthcare facilities, schools, offices, sports facilities) or locations with a large number of sub-metered supplies, Pulse Plus allows energy or facilities managers to quickly and easily download real-time power usage figures from any number of sites around the country.

Pulse Plus units are installed in each location and can be remotely configured. Installation is non-invasive using clip-on split core transducers (CTs). MTEM also offers Flexeclamp CTs. Both approaches utilise a precision wound aircored inductor integrally coupled to a hybrid integrator module to provide an AC voltage signal directly proportional to the AC current being measured. Other measurement techniques are available but our research and development has shown this to be the most accurate and easy to use method. Pulse Plus has a range covering 10A full scale to 5,000A full scale. Data is downloaded via the mobile phone network to a computer as required, with data also stored in a non-volative onboard memory. Automatic energy data collection includes parametric amps, volts, PF, KW and KWH. It is fast and cost effective to install and, with all connections being plug-in, and the CTs split core, fitting is easy and power supplies do not need to be isolated or cables disconnected. A key advantage of the system is its ability to measure single or three phase loads with only a single phase voltage connection.

Reduce usage

Once a regime of sub-metering has been completed the next logical step is to consider how to reduce energy usage. We believe voltage optimisation, and specifically the Voltis system, offers one of the most straightforward and cost effective ways to deliver savings and reduce carbon emissions. A 300Amp Voltis system was recently installed in Reigate Town Hall. Council Environmental Initiatives Officer Raymond Dill said: “I looked at the savings predicted from Voltis and considered that even if it delivered half of those savings it would achieve the required five year pay back criteria. My view now is don’t hesitate to put voltage optimisation in at the first stage of any carbon reduction programme.”

Voltis utilises intelligent operation to maximise power and carbon savings. It is British manufactured with an automatic bypass feature as standard to prevent the unit cutting power to the building it serves should an issue arise with the mains power supply.

We are launching a new version of Voltis to bridge the gap between domestic and commercial/industrial installations. The new Voltis 100Amp single phase system is designed to be a more cost effective solution for small to medium sized buildings, for example shops, hotels, restaurants, offices, care/medical facilities and even larger residential properties. It is suitable for any location utilising a single phase supply and load of up to 100Amps. We believe it opens up the market to a much wider range of users, offering an off-the-shelf solution that achieves substantial power and carbon savings.

For customers wishing to use both Sinergy and Voltis, the MTEM Energy Management Control Centre unites the systems in a single platform, amalgamating live operational reports to give a detailed overview of energy used and power/carbon savings achieved. The Control Centre can also be linked to existing meters and devices with a MODBUS interface, enabling users to have a full picture of their energy profile through one dashboard.

You might also like