Home Joint energy solutions Information and Communication Technologies (ITCs)

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.


Realisation of a smart grid within the park premises

What is it:

“Smart grid“ refers to a reworking of electricity infrastructures, encompassing technology, policy and business models, which is under way globally. Challenges to be address:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions reduction and climate change mitigation: Fossil-fuel power stations are responsible for about 30% of the carbon dioxide emissions so, with smart grids, substantially higher penetration of renewable, non-fossil-fuel generation sources is anticipated.
  • Reliability issues: Transmission infrastructure is ageing, and new infrastructure investment is lagging behind the increase in consumption and the addition of new generation. Smart grids will bring sophisticated measurement, monitoring and control to grid operations.
  • Economic savings: Utilities and service providers often pay high prices for electricity that is imported from grid-connected neighbours at times of shortage or transmission congestion. Smart grids promise an ability to reduce peak demand, with financial savings for utilities and end users.
  • Energy security: The electrification of road transportation can reduce imports of foreign oil. Because of the impact on the grid, the charging of large numbers of electric vehicles must be carefully managed.
  • Energy efficiency: Improving efficiency is the “low-hanging fruit” for energy management and is widely sought wherever energy costs are significant. Today, the advances include low-cost wireless sensors, interconnected control networks, and asset management software.
  • Storage: electricity supply can be variable in many respects, including availability, price and quality. It can permit the partial decoupling of the purchase or use of electricity.
  • Distributed generation and cogeneration: many industrial plants generate some part of their power requirements and often export power too. The grid connection is important, and automation and control are needed. Facility operators need to know costs of utility and site-generated power over planning horizon and they need to be able to schedule and control the production process.

An example of Smart Grid integrating several subsystems.

smart grid

Source: http://comsar.com/

Companies cooperation benefits:

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.

Joint purchase of monitoring equipment

What is it:

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.

Companies cooperation benefits:

  • Data showing how much energy is used on each of the three electrical phases: allow keeping these balanced and to reduce demand penalty charged by the electric provider.
  • Automated alerts notifying the competent manager: via email or text when energy consumption levels exceed pre-set thresholds.
  • Providing more detailed insight into the energy consumption: of each individual equipment, if multiple energy meters are installed across the park.
  • Historical sets of recorded data: allow the tracking and assessment of the effectiveness of energy saving measures.

Demand response schemes

What is it:

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.

Companies cooperation benefits:

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 System at industry/park level

What is it:

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:

  • For BEMS: scheduling control, tariff and load control and smart home/environment are the three main functions for uplifting the energy effect.
  • For I/C/F EMS, the key function is management function, which converts manufacturing behaviour from the production-driven activity to the consumer-oriented one.
  • The most important function of BEMS is to create the smart home, building and factory. By distributed sensors and controllers, the maximum energy savings of these smart spaces could be carried out through combining the managements of facility operation and human behaviour.
  • The smart control of EMS for HVAC system is an effective energy saving function. Through feedback of human intention, the average energy savings of reported data is about 14%.
  • The most important energy saving function of EMS for motors is the specific variable frequency control, which manages the energy usage by variable speed control.
  • The key function of EMS for lighting system is optimization function, which optimized the lighting intensity and reduced the artificial system by daylight assisted energy management. The energy savings could be above 50%.

Companies cooperation benefits:

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.

Shared central servers

What is it:

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.

Companies cooperation benefits:

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.

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