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Intelligent Energy Efficiency Advisor

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - IE2advisor (Intelligent Energy Efficiency Advisor)

Reporting period: 2016-12-01 to 2017-03-31

The energy market is changing. Firstly, environmental concerns are increasing due to the alarming evidences of global warming and ecosystems degradation, steering policy makers to implement tight regulations to encourage energy conservation. Secondly, the increasingly common energy market liberalisation together with the high penetration of renewable energies are increasing the market competitiveness for utilities and forcing them to change their business models based in services rather than simply in selling kWh.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are responsible for ca. 67% of the employment in the EU28, employing ca. 90 million people and generating €3.9 trillion. A medium sized business can have monthly energy bill of ca. €3000, paying around 30% more than companies in big facilities for their utilities. These figures depict a high economic impact, indirectly revealing high energy demand levels, for SMEs. However, they are usually considered ’the neglected middle’ on what energy conservation solutions are concerned. In fact, common solutions either address the household sector or the industry and large facilities. Therefore, there is a need in addressing this significant market gap and encourage SMEs to be more energy efficient, thus impacting significantly in the overall energy market.

The upsurge of massive energy consumption data from the deployment of smart meters worldwide is creating an opportunity for transforming that data into valuable information that can help the end consumers to be more energy efficient and utilities differentiate from competition by providing added-value services to their customers. Watt-is is tackling this market by developing advanced energy data analysis algorithms that are capable of autonomously generating tailored and quantified information that can effectively trigger energy conservation among the final consumers (SMEs), at the same time as providing utilities with tools to increase the efficiency of the overall production/commercialisation value-chain.

Scientific evidences support that every year around 5.5 million people die due to air pollution. Electricity generation is one of the main causes of greenhouse gas emissions, especially because most of the generated power in the world is from natural gas, coal or oil. The conversion of primary energy (e.g. coal) to final energy (e.g. electricity) usually suffers a 60% losses and the conversion of that final energy to useful energy (e.g. electricity to useful heat for warming our houses) can be very significant, depending on the efficiency of the appliances and the consumption habits. Fostering energy conservation and energy efficiency is, therefore, of outmost importance to take a step further in decreasing the impact of energy in our environment.

Additionally, the most efficient management of energy usage paves the way for more reliable and positive penetration of renewable energy sources — which decrease the negative impact of the conventional sources — and increases energy independency in the highly energy dependent states, which increases their political stability and security of supply.

The intelligent analysis of energy consumption data paves the way for creating a more efficient energy value-chain and that is the primary focus of Watt-is, developing advanced algorithms that can translate raw data into actionable information that can effectively help end users to adopt strategies towards a more efficient energy usage, and utilities to better manage their production, distribution or commercialisation assets.
The main objectives of the IE2Advisor project were to develop a tool that could provide tailored, actionable and quantified feedback for final consumers (SMEs) to better managing the way they are consuming energy, promoting the implementation of conscious, quantified and effective energy efficiency decisions. So far, Watt-is has been successful in developing an advising platform that translate complex energy consumption data into actionable information for SMEs to better understand their consumptions and how can they be more efficient. Our results show that easy-to-implement solutions can trigger ca. 30% of savings in the energy bill of the SMEs.

Complementing with the advising platform, the IE2Advisor is also including automated remote controllers that can be programmed with machine learning algorithms that can optimize the usage of equipment according to multi variables such as cost or comfort. Additionally, a proprietary module that can communicate with existing controllers and sensors has also been developed and assembled, being able to successfully integrate, in the IE2Advisor platform, different data such as electricity and gas consumption, enthalpy, temperature and wind or PV electricity production.

A wide range of functionalities has been successfully deployed:
- Real-time and historical visualization of energy consumption;
- Possibility of downloading historical consumption data on a .CSV spreadsheet;
- Integration of different sensors (hardware) in a same visualisation page (e.g. temperature, relative humidity, electricity consumption or enthalpy);
- Two-fold possibilities of integration: (i) different installations within the same user page; (ii) different spaces of a unique installation within the same user (e.g. a university building with several rooms being monitored);
- Benchmarking of the different installation/space normalised with selected indicators (e.g. geography, area, number of employees, revenue stream, or selecting the consumption per type of day (weekday, weekend, etc.)).
With the completion of this Phase 1 of the IE2Advisor project, we envisage the development of more advanced features highly focused in adaptive self-learning capabilities and intelligent control that will help the SMEs and also utilities and energy services companies (ESCOs) in better managing energy and in differentiating them from competition.
Current energy management solutions are not tailored for the SME sector, especially those traditional businesses that have modest revenues and to which the utilities costs represent a significant share of the total operational costs. Current solutions are either simple energy monitoring systems (mostly targeted at the residential sector) or too complex and expensive (usually targeted to big facilities). Only few solutions have been developed to the SME sector but, beyond existing in an insufficient number to address the whole market, these solutions still deliver incomplete feedback to aid the end users to be more efficient and are hard to be adaptable to the different needs of the different SMEs.

In addition, the few existing solutions are hardly including energy management strategies that help utilities to better manage their energy demand/supply value-chain (e.g. by fostering the implementation of demand response techniques to decrease the supply and the demand costs altogether).

The IE2Advisor has been designed to specifically address SME needs and arming non-energy experts SME owners with a layer of information and automation capabilities to lower energy consumption. With the conclusion of Phase 1, the IE2Advisor has been acquiring important features that enrich the feedback to the SMEs, helping them to deploy informed energy conservation measures (e.g. alarm setting for abnormal consumptions or when reaching the contracted power levels, benchmarking with other installations according to selected indicators, download historical data, integration of different sensors such as temperature, heat, electricity or gas, and remote controllers that can be programable with adaptive self-learning capabilities to optimise multivariate problems such as comfort maximisation and cost minimisation, setting the way to demand response).

The IE2Advisor can also be complemented by proprietary controllers (that are less expensive than if bought to third parties) and data aggregators that can be configured in installations where sensors or actuators from third parties already exist, with which they can communicate to (i) aggregate data to the IE2Advisor platform, or (ii) send commands to control loads. With this flexible and agnostic architecture with the hardware, the IE2Advisor cost can lower considerably and gains value.

The combination of these features structure a solution with higher value than what can be find in current solutions. This paradigm is even more favourable when planning an incremental development during Phase 2, where the adaptive self-learning mechanisms will be developed, enhancing the potential benefits of the IE2Advisor for different scenarios, taking into consideration the needs of the SMEs, utilities and ESCOs.

The IE2Advisor is highly aligned with the EU societal challenges addressed in this call: secure, clean and efficient energy. The Ie2Advisor contributes to a more efficient usage of energy with the advanced algorithms that characterise the consumption profile of each SME and suggests the most effective tailor-made energy efficiency solution through an advising platform that eases the implementation of such strategies. As described above, the IE2Advisor will incorporate advanced data analytics that will consider not only the demand side but also the supply side (utilities) and will be able to perform multivariate optimisation problems towards an effective implementation of demand response strategies that should benefit both the utility and the end consumer. In fact, by being able to effectively encourage the end users to implement corrective measures with encouraging benefits for both supply and demand sides, utilities will be able to better cope supply with demand, avoiding energy losses in the distribution and using acute electricity production assets such as gas-fired power plants with high marginal costs. Such ability contributes to a cleaner supply of energy. The combination of the demand response services with the demand forecast of the IE2Advisor algorithms will improve the better management of the demand/supply value-chain by the utility, therefore contributing to a decrease of the chances for blackouts, resulting in a more secure supply of energy.

In addition to the above, with a better management of the demand/supply value-chain, it will become more reliable to increase the penetration of renewable energy sources in the grid. The IE2Advisor is also able to properly quantify the benefits of the optimal PV solution for each SME, therefore encouraging the penetration of these distributed energy generation technologies, which contributes to a cleaner and more independent (secure) supply of energy.