There are many tools available to assist companies as they gain a better grasp on how their energy is being used, and what that means for the goal of efficient energy management.
Not all solutions are created equal. Each has its distinct benefits and advantages, designed to assist a particular sector, fulfill a certain requirement, or appeal to a specific cross-section of functions and roles. Here are some software tools, with their best features highlighted, that can provide solutions to tough problems facing energy managers at power plants and other industrial facilities.
Agentis Energy Platform. The Agentis Energy platform focuses on connecting utilities and customers so they can develop a cooperative environment where data and derived insights are easily shared. Agentis offers collaboration capabilities among utilities, their business partners, account managers, and engineering staff. This level of intercompany collaboration allows for open access to critical information, better customer service, and greater responsiveness among partners.
Agentis also includes features that help energy managers track investments and capital expenditures, which in turn helps identify opportunities to trim budgets.
Dakota Software’s ProActivity Suite. Dakota Software’s ProActivity Suite is a data metrics software platform that captures, analyzes, and reports metrics relating to waste reduction and efficiency; greenhouse gas emissions; and environmental, health, and safety data. Energy managers can harness the information offered by the suite to gauge the success of waste reduction, waste management, and renewable energy programs, while furthering sustainable manufacturing goals.
The software (Figure 1) also includes comprehensive reporting that can be used to demonstrate an organization’s commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals and regulatory compliance. For example, lowering energy consumption in refrigeration demonstrates compliance with the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ energy codes, and the International Energy Conservation Code.
Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) includes regulations and tax incentives for energy-efficient efforts, equipment, and best practices. This resource lists thousands of benefits available in the U.S. at both state and federal levels.
By maintaining a comprehensive list of incentives and policies to promote renewable energy and efficient operations, DSIRE helps energy managers understand what is required of them and where they can earn aforementioned incentives. However, it’s up to energy managers to figure out which energy management system will help meet the right regulations and secure maximum tax incentives.
Energy Risk VuePoint. A fully web-based platform, Energy Risk VuePoint helps manage the energy trading process, which involves the buying, selling, and moving of bulk energy from the supplier to the end user. Energy Risk VuePoint draws data from utilities throughout the UK, which enables stakeholders to view energy exposure, manage risk, and optimize their positions.
For energy managers, much of the value comes from features such as price access and analyses, as well as historic price data, which helps ensure they’re getting the best deal available. Like other commodities, many factors affect energy prices, and this platform can keep an eye on the changes over time, positioning energy managers to make better financial decisions.
Lucid’s BuildingOS. Lucid’s BuildingOS offers a centralized platform and dashboard that aggregates and displays building management system and enterprise resource planning data from more than 180 sources. Detailed graphs and charts simplify data visualization, enabling better decisions to be made on the basis of more complete information. Workflows are customizable to best suit team needs.
BuildingOS (Figure 2) also enables more effective collaboration among multiple interested parties. Energy managers can alert co-workers and the public alike to real-time data points that demonstrate progress toward greater efficiency. Not only does this satisfy organizational stakeholders, it helps demonstrate a commitment to CSR.
Weather Data Depot. Weather Data Depot from EnergyCap uses data from 14,000 weather stations in North America and AccuWeather to create reports and charts for degree days, average daily temperature, cooling degree days, heating degree days, and a degree-day forecast. This information, in tandem with data from an advanced energy monitoring system, enables managers to see how outside temperature and conditions affect operational performance metrics. That knowledge in turn informs smart energy policies, mitigates strains, and improves overall efficiency.
A free tool, Weather Data Depot allows energy managers to track weather changes in real time, forecast impending climate events, and reference a historical record of weather data.
This information is of use to energy managers in multiple ways, including:
■ Providing a well-defined basis to test the efficacy of weatherproofing expenditures.
■ Properly defining and optimizing heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning setpoints.
■ Setting appropriate building automation system and building management system control thresholds.
■ Preparing for, and to the extent possible, offsetting effects of inclement weather.
■ Gauging machine performance and energy consumption as it relates to outside temperature.
Intelligently applied weather information is empowering energy managers to more effectively craft a more situationally aware, resilient, and efficient energy strategy.
PowerRadar. PowerRadar is a full-service advanced energy monitoring system. It offers users an intuitive, easy-to-navigate dashboard that shows the complete picture of your energy consumption—replete with visualization and advanced data analysis tools—accessible at the device, system, zone, floor, site, or portfolio levels, as well as any cross-section thereof. The system is fed by data on the device level, where wireless energy monitoring sensors collect and push the data for analysis by the PowerRadar system.
This level of simultaneously granular and panoramic insight makes it easy to measure and track key performance indicators, while drawing on energy data recorded every 10 seconds at the device level to build an enlightened and data-driven energy strategy for the entire organization. Importantly, the system also boasts a mobile application, allowing users to access energy usage data on the go.
PowerRadar allows users to monitor and manage not just electricity consumption, but asset performance. The system can even analyze power consumption as a function of historical standards, measured by operation type, system type, machine type, and even individual machines. This information can be leveraged to predict performance issues or to anticipate periods of high energy draw, allowing for more intelligent intervention.
A well-designed arsenal of intelligent tools for energy managers, and the knowledge of where and when to apply them, can help organizations build operational efficiency and effectiveness. ■
—Yaniv Vardi is CEO of Panoramic Power, an energy monitoring, management, and performance optimization company.