Home Joint energy solutions Information and Communication Technologies (ITCs)
Communication technologies can play a substantial role in improving the energy performance of companies and parks via the implementation of effective solutions that take advantage of energy interactions.
The impact of ICTs in energy efficiency relies mainly on the implementation of an adequate number of monitoring equipment and the subsequent utilisation of the obtained data.
“Smart grid“ refers to a reworking of electricity infrastructures, encompassing technology, policy and business models, which is under way globally. Challenges to be address:
An example of Smart Grid integrating several subsystems.
The increase of the number of factories included in the smart grid causes a consequent increase of its complexity, adding consumption loads, processes and production facilities.
All the companies involved could benefit from the realisation of a smart grid between the park premises, according to their assets and needs. Such smart grids could be initially limited to the industrial park but be integrated with the external environment.
Energy metering can help to identify cost cutting opportunities by detecting inefficiencies, benchmarking building performance, improving load planning and energy usage.
Effective metering and monitoring gives owners and operator crucial information about how their plants and buildings are performing. This can deliver substantial, almost-immediate improvements from an energy and economic point of view.
This ability to identify energy usage pattern is often enough to guarantee energy savings. A better awareness and visibility to energy data is the basis for any strategic energy management application.
Demand response (DR) provides an opportunity for consumers to play a significant role in the operation of the electric grid by reducing or shifting their electricity usage during peak periods in response to time based rates or other financial incentives.
DR programs are being used by some electric system planners and operators as resource options for balancing supply and demand. Such programs can lower the cost of electricity in wholesale markets and in turn, lead to lower retail rates.
The theoretical basis for DR is that when a facility receives information from the electricity grid, it can respond in one of three ways: manually, semi-automated, or fully automated.
Aggregators are new entities in the electricity market that act as mediators between users and the utility operator. Aggregators possess the technology to perform DR and are responsible for the installation of the communication and control devices at DR market. It can negotiate on behalf of the end users with the operator more efficiently.
This option may require a tight collaboration of the companies inside the park, which would exchange energy according to different internal and external parameters.
Thanks to such virtual forms of aggregation , the possibility of operating an internal demand response could be investigated, aiming to optimally operate the available assets and to avoid incurring in additional charges from the electricity supplier.
Energy management systems (EMS) are computerized systems able to manage and control the energy usage of buildings, industries, companies, factories.
Key function developments of EMS for effective energy savings, as identified are:
The advantage of introducing an effective energy management system not only at company level but also at park one is that it would tackle areas otherwise not considered and its implementation would be straightforward to the installation of standardised energy meters in the park.
Many observers believe that Europe is at the beginning of a new industrial revolution, considered to be the fourth such leap forward and hence labelled Industry 4.0. The ubiquitous use of sensors, the expansion of wireless communication and networks, the deployment of increasingly intelligent robots and machines, as well as increased computing power at lower cost and the development of “big data” analytics, has the potential to transform the way goods are manufactured in Europe.
A viable solution in this framework is represented by a central server: as mentioned the digitalisation of the industry is generating a significant amount of data to be processed and a “central brain” is the key part of a smart grid.
To fully take advantage of this industrial revolution or for specific manufacturing related needs, the companies may require substantially increased computational power.
The industrial parks cooperative solution envisaged consists in purchasing the above-mentioned computational power in order to serve various companies by building a centralised server within the park, which may also facilitate the deployment of other cooperative solutions. An alternative function is to employ this central server as a tool for industrial computational- intensive purposes.