Metering beyond tariff metering
Narang N. Kishor, Mentor and Principal Design Architect, Narnix Technolabs, highlights the role of “metering” beyond “tariff metering”, the main focus of most of the energy meter manufacturers
Energy crisis and rising energy cost are two important factors affecting today’s business. To fulfil the rising demand, more power generation plants are being planned and the cost is recovered from consumers in higher energy costs. Conventional energy sources like coal and oil are getting exhausted faster than expected, and alternative sources of power turn out to be more costly.
This miracle resource is better known across the world by name of “energy efficiency”, which is less expensive, less destructive, and less time intensive to reduce demand through efficiency than to increase supply through new drilling or new power plants.
Today energy efficiency is considered as the 5th fuel to serve our increasing energy requirements.Energy efficiency has become the largest energy source. It is bigger than oil and biggest among wind, solar, hydroelectric power, and bio-fuels combined. The use of 5th fuel is clean, possible, and profitable.
There is a renewable-energy resource which is clean, remarkably cheap, abundant, and immediately available.
It has potential to reduce the carbon emissions which threaten our planet and our dependency on oil imports
It does not pollute, does not depend on weather, does not inflate prices, and does need a decade to build.
As they say, a penny saved is penny earned; in power context, it is well-know that a unit of electricity saved is equivalent to 2.5 to 3 units generated.
But you can’t manage what you can’t measure. That is why, a new breed of smart meters, smart appliances, smart sensors, and smart interfacing and communication devices are evolving. These devices enable utilities, organisations and consumers to measure, monitor, audit, and control their energy consumption patterns and devise their respective energy conservation as well as efficiency strategies.
At the heart of the worldwide rollout of smart meters and the construction of a smart grid network infrastructure, lies the goal of energy efficiency from the generation, transmission, and distribution to the customers.
Governments worldwide are mandating improved energy efficiency, requiring an investment in the new smart grid and smart energy management structure. The goal is to create a smart grid that will change the way power is deployed for sustainable energy around the world.
The key economic, social driver for “smart grid” initiatives globally is nothing but “energy efficiency”. Smart grid technology is integration of communication, IT and power technologies. Smart grid can also send signals to both power plants and end users like homes or office buildings, constantly telling them how much energy they are consuming. The power plant can then either cut down the amount of power it generates or the end user can cut down its consumption accordingly. It will transform the way people use energy. People can monitor air conditioners, lights, televisions, and other appliances in real time through smart grid technology. Just by optimising the uses, smart meters can help reduce power consumption by more than 15 per cent. This is very important for the energy-deficient countries like India. Nearly one-third Indians have no access to power. Frequent power cut is a regular phenomenon even in the metros like New Delhi and Mumbai. At peak hours, power deficit rises to nearly 20 per cent in major parts of the country. This highlights the need to use innovative measures to bridge the gap between demand and supply.
Nineteen per cent of the total global electricity consumption is for lighting, amounting to 2,650 terawatt-hour per year, out of which 31 per cent is consumed in homes and 69 per cent is consumed in commercial and industrial applications.
Globally, 1.4 billion people still have no electricity. They use 77 billion litres of kerosene a year only for lighting, causing 190 million tonnes of CO2 emitted which would be equivalent to emission from 50 million cars.
Imagine, if the effort to conserve the energy consumption result in 20 per cent aggregate saving, it would mean that we shall be able to light up the lives of those 1.4 billion people, and may not need to add any generation capacity for next few years.
On the cost of smart meters and other such devices, the new technology is initially bound to cost more, as it is not yet mass produced. Cost will, of course, be higher; but the savings in electricity bill will more than compensate it. The governments are likely to incentivise the use of smart meters at homes, enabling users to monitor their power consumptions in real time and save on electricity bills by over 15 per cent.
Demand side management and energy efficiencyAs per recent regulations, the costs toward setting-up demand side management (DSM) programmes can be passed on to consumers through tariffs. With the mission for enhanced energy efficiency under the National Action Plan for Climate Change also laying emphasis on DSM. Several utilities are exploring the use of energy-efficient devices and strategies for managing demand and flattening the load curve.
Energy efficiency in commercial and industrial segmentsDifferent segments of industry and business are trying to evolve different strategies to reduce the power consumption with their own set of business drivers and technology drivers. Energy cost is one of the major components of OPEX for most of businesses and industries that does not directly contribute to the growth or profit.
In a typical organisation, there are several departments; each having its own consumption pattern. It is important to understand these patterns and address them properly to gain energy efficiency. The key to a successful energy-efficiency program lies in the control people have over their energy consumptions.
Online energy monitoringIdentifying the key energy consumption and wastage areas of organisation is the first step toward achieving energy efficiency.
People need a new generation of online energy monitoring solutions for accurate real-time monitoring, recording, and reporting of energy and utilities use.
This solution enables people to access a range of real-time and historical data, including voltage, current per phase, frequency, power factor, and power and energy. With these data, anyone can gain an accurate understanding of their use patterns. It also provides the ability to produce graphical trend reports. Any irregularities in use patterns could be highlighted in the graphs for further investigation.
Advantages of online energy monitoringOnline energy monitoring lets people create information base for overall energy conservation program. It also improves operation and maintenance of facilities and optimises energy costs. Its other advantages are:
Monitoring and capturing of dynamic load patterns
Immediate data during adds, moves and changes
Comparative consumption analysis across the timeline
Maximum control over accountability
Factual data analysis for informed decisions
Basis for adoption of appropriate control strategy
Several countries are adapting “continuous energy monitoring” or “submetering” as a part of the green initiative. Studies have shown that through online monitoring and control, energy consumption in organisations may be reduced by up to 20 per cent.
Many major energy guzzler segments—including telecom, IT, and hospitality—have already initiated to curtail their consumption by implementing green initiatives.
Adopted strategies by the industryFor the last few years, efficiency has been an important factor to many telecom operators. Facing fierce price competition, operators have improved in network performance, business processes, and operations and maintenance. Resulting OPEX reductions have helped operators to enjoy EBITDA levels which are higher than those normally seen in other industries.
Facts: Telecom Industry
No of towers in India in 2010: 340,000
No of towers in India by 2015: 460,000
Annual diesel consumption: 2 billion litres
Total electricity consumed annually: 6,000 MWh
About 5.3 million tonnes CO2 from diesel alone
CO2 emission: 2.63 kg/litre (greenhouse gas protocol)
Facts: IT industry
A typical medium-sized data centre uses
177,000,000 KWh of electricity
60,000,000 gallons of water
145,000 lbs of copper
21,000 lbs of lead
33,000 lbs of plastic
73,000 lbs of aluminium
12,000 lbs of solder
377,000 lbs of steel
While continuing their efforts to improve efficiency, operators must pay attention to the market development. Compared to the past, many operators find themselves acting under different conditions in market maturity and environment or politics. Understanding changes in market trends and market forces is critical for operators to successfully prioritise, plan, and execute internal efficiency initiatives.
Technology strategies for energy efficiencyThere are four energy-efficient technologies, tried and found suitable for telecom cell site. They are:IPMS
Integrated DC and AC power system
Four per cent more efficient than conventional system
Applicable for poor EB quality sites and new sites
Variable speed with PMA generates DC power of 6.5-9 kW
Saves up to 50 per cent fuel w.r.t. ACDG
Best used in high DG run hours sites
Fuel oxidation catalyst increases combustion efficiency by 5 per cent
Best fit for high diesel consumption sites.
Fix and forget for 12,000 hours
Direct cooling by mixing ambient cold air
Saves up to 15 per cent of energy cost
Best suitable for indoor sites with ambient below 25C for 5,000 hours a year.
A typical integrated energy management view in a telecom companyDiesel as well as conventional-energy costs are growing at least two times faster than industry revenues itself. The costs are outpacing revenues. Energy costs for a telecom is disproportionately high (18-20 per cent) nonvalue add cost pass through.
Most of the data centres are today being designed for maximum energy efficiency and minimum environmental impact with the help of following strategies and initiatives:
Reducing the power consumption of the data centre
Minimising the footprints of the buildings
Maximising cooling efficiency
Using low-emission building materials, carpets and paints
Installing catalytic converters on backup generators
Using alternative energy technologies, e.g. Google’s water-based data centre.
Gross energy consumption by ICT sector is set to grow. However, with intelligent use of ICT, organisations can reduce the gross energy consumption by 15 per cent and enhance efficiencies.
What is the role that the metering fraternity is playing in this changing scenario? Little, very little. It is high time; the industry should try to understand the new needs of the society and industry. They should also use their experience, know-how and domain expertise of energy metering to cater to these needs and become an integral part of this new ecosystem.
Authored byNarang N. KishorMentor and Principal Design ArchitectNarnix Technolabs