Energy management is becoming increasingly complex for businesses, with heavier targets on carbon emissions, widespread change towards renewable energy generation, and rising energy costs. Although effective energy management is important for businesses all year round, it is vital in the winter months, which is an especially challenging period, particularly for high energy users.
Outlining the challenges
Businesses face continually evolving energy challenges, that vary depending on business size and sector, however, key themes include: energy price volatility and cost implications, risk of power supply failure and resultant disruption, increased reporting for compliance requirements, and budget constraints on new investments.
Such challenges are exacerbated in winter, and will likely grow in future years in the face of worsening adverse weather conditions due to climate change. Altering weather patterns are adding an extra dimension to energy management due to increased seasonal unpredictability, with events such as the 2019 European heatwave, and the unseasonably cold storm named ‘beast from the east’ in 2018. As more extreme weather patterns emerge, and seasons become more pronounced, businesses will be faced with greater heating and cooling requirements, further impacting energy consumption. Scientists have predicted that early 2020 could see UK temperatures plunge into a cold snap, adding additional pressure in terms of customer comfort and trying to control rising energy costs.
Heightened electricity bills driven by darker, colder days mean businesses require more lighting and heating, both of which can inflate energy consumption and further increase costs for businesses. This reason alone is a key driver forcing organisations to seek ways to improve their energy efficiency.
A proven technology to produce significant electrical consumption and therefore costs year-round is voltage optimisation (VO). Powerstar’s patented voltage optimisation systems reduce the incoming voltage to a level closer to the design characteristics of onsite equipment, producing consumption and cost savings of around 8-10%, as well as significantly reducing carbon emissions.
During the winter period, National Grid implements charges for electricity use at peak times are based on an energy user’s consumption during the highest 3 half hourly demand peaks in winter, resulting in hefty charges in the spring for those that are unable to reduce their consumption during such periods.
Battery energy storage systems, such as Powerstar’s VIRTUE, can assist high energy users by utilising stored energy to power a site during peak times, reducing imported energy from the grid, minimising consumption during costly winter periods.
Due to heightened consumer demand around the festive period, operational peaks for many businesses occur in winter, such as retailers and distributors working around the clock to process high sales volumes. Additionally, numerous organisations, such as hospitals, distribution centres and telecommunications companies must ensure operations continue seamlessly throughout winter even in challenging conditions. Therefore, it is important take actions improve energy efficiency and flexibility to minimise use charges alongside the additional challenge of power resilience.
Reasons to be resilient
Power failures can affect organisations with continuous operations by causing interruption to operations resulting in stock wastage, lost time, and missed deadlines. Despite National Grid taking safeguarding steps, with more intermittent renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, being introduced as a greater share of the energy mix in the coming years, the risk of blackouts is ever-present as shown by the August 2019 power failure. Unpredictable weather patterns will also increase the risk of power failures as consumption and demand patterns can shift dramatically, causing a challenge for the grid to balance the supply.
To combat this at a site level, Powerstar VIRTUE can provide full uninterruptible power supply (UPS) capabilities to protect sites from power failures by switching rapidly to stored energy if events such as blackouts/brownouts occur, minimising the risk of the disruption to sites, and the interruption to processes this can cause.
The intelligent control of battery assets through software such as Powerstar’s energy optimisation system (EOS), can automatically and intelligently prioritise key functions, such as power resilience or maximising renewables based on a broad variety of datapoints. This results in businesses being able to negate power failures, maximise onsite generation, and optimise energy flows through a single system with remote monitoring features to provide a site-wide perspective of energy performance.
A new renewable perspective
More businesses are deploying onsite renewable generation, which is highly valuable for reducing reliance from the grid and lowering the cost of energy, however, due to volatility in generation, which can increase in winter, it is often underutilised. Through combining onsite renewables with energy storage, locally generated energy can be stored and utilised at the most beneficial times for the site, reducing energy imported from the grid, minimising peak charges, and enabling a self-sustaining business, further lowering energy costs.
Too much to monitor
As the trend of big data continues in the transition to Industry 4.0, many businesses are left struggling to utilise it in an effective way such as reporting on performance, and meeting growing compliance requirements. This means identifying actionable energy management insights to meet energy efficiency targets can prove difficult, taking up valuable time for energy managers unnecessarily.
To overcome this, Powerstar’s smart energy technologies feature remote monitoring capabilities, allowing users to track key asset performance and operation measures from anywhere with a secure internet connection. This offers a streamlined approach for information collection and dissemination enabling users to identify further improvements that can be made to optimise energy management on an ongoing basis across all energy assets.
The multifaceted energy management challenges that businesses face, especially in winter, require strategically planned, futureproof solutions that work to make energy management smart and effective. Powerstar’s smart energy solutions can assist managers in achieving their energy targets, from bolstering energy efficiency to reducing costs and tackling challenges year-round.
To learn more about the first steps your business can take to overcome the challenges this winter, explore our dedicated winter energy management page here. Alternatively, contact us on 01142 576 200 to speak to one of our experts today.
On 22 January 2020, Powerstar held a webinar discussing how organisations can improve energy efficiency, to watch it on-demand, click here.
27 January 2020