Taking Buildings off Grid – Bleeding Edge Energy Efficiency

Energy Saving
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Office blocks, manufacturing plants, retail units and all general places of work draw huge amounts of energy. In Europe, 38% of all energy consumption was attributed to residential and commercial buildings. The country as a whole has begun to make a more conscious effort to reduce energy consumption and is becoming more efficient.  

Investments into infrastructures can have a global impact and allow building owners to innovate and take advantage of more flexible energy systems. The most influential technologies that are giving infrastructure owners unprecedented control of their energy are microgrids and IoT.  

Microgrid Market 

A microgrid is a group of interconnected loads and distributed energy resources within clearly defined electrical boundaries that is a single controllable entity. It can operate in both grid-connected or island mode. Microgrids enable buildings to decentralise electricity production and gain control over power needs at a local level.  

Battery storage units are one of the most widely used versions of a microgrid. They enable users to store energy from both the grid and alternative energy sources. These energy storage systems provide sustainable energy cost savings by taking buildings off-grid during triads or red energy periods between 4-7 pm. In addition it can be used in emergency situations to provide emergency backup power. Alongside this, owners have greater control over their energy consumption, especially when paired with renewable energy generation.  

A battery is also capable of providing a smooth energy supply to a building. Any voltage dips and brownouts can be smoothed so a building can continue to function without any noticeable interruptions. This is particularly important when sourcing energy from renewable resources which are consistently fluctuating, like wind or solar.  

Microgrids open the door to the demand side response (DSR) method. Sometimes the grid has more demand than it is capable of meeting and therefore requires energy from alternative sources. So, they will outreach to the market and offer deals to providers, including those with batteries, meaning owners can sell energy back to the grid.  

Implementing IoT 

Implementing IoT to a battery storage system increases productivity gains. IoT sensors can monitor the assets’ stability and assess if they are charging correctly and providing energy at the desired times. Alongside this, IoT has the capability to control the battery to alter the times in which the battery is charged or discharged based on the energy market. This provides more visual insight into how the battery is operating and over time, can be automatically controlled to achieve optimal efficiency.  

The Bright Building, Manchester 

Our work at the Bright Building is a perfect example of how microgrids and IoT can provide greater energy control to reduce building costs and improve efficiency.  

At the Bright Building, our main focus was on monitoring the Tesla battery and the building’s overall energy draw. We consistently monitored a wide range of metrics such as kWh, kW, Power Factor, Frequency and more.  

The battery is an essential asset for the building as it provides protection against power outages, avoidance of costly triad periods and DSR functionality. As the battery is so integral to the building, it was vital that we consistently monitor the asset to ensure its stability, charging/discharging times and the battery’s required energy levels. With IoT sensors, coupled with the Hark Platform we’re able to provide detailed data into the day to day operations of the battery.  

After providing this initial insight, we began taking control of the battery, providing a scheduling system with ad-hoc actions functionality on top. Automatically controlling the asset means we could charge the battery at specific times when energy prices are at their lowest and discharge at peak times. During triad periods, the battery powers the whole building, avoiding the expensive costs.   

The longer our machine learning algorithms are in place, the higher the level of efficiently we will achieve at the Bright Building, and we’re in talks to expand this offering to various infrastructures worldwide. To find out more about how we are helping companies become more energy efficient, then get in touch.