Fresh news on smart grid, IoT and green technologies
The largest demand response provider in the world is in trouble, and layoffs last year to streamline the company have not been enough. EnerNOC, despite recent contracts signed in Asia, says additional revenues overseas will likely not be enough to keep the company growing.
While EnerNOC had turned to software as a way to shore up demand response revenues, the company now says that market has been slow to develop.
“Although we had a number of strategic sales wins and more recently have seen indicators of accelerated market adoption, the near-term opportunity has materialized much more slowly than we expected,” Tim Healy, Chairman and CEO of EnerNOC, said in a statement.
In September of last year, the company said it had a plan to restructure its subscription-based energy intelligence software to focus more on select industry segments and “high potential customers.” That announcement came with a 15% force reduction. Before that in June, EnerNOC informed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission revealed it would sell its utility customer engagement business, and reduce its North American workforce by about 5%.
ABB, a leading player in the global power technology industry has launched ABB Ability Electrical Distribution Control System, a breakthrough innovation for cloud-based energy management, for its US market.
The system connects a facility’s electrical equipment with the Internet of Things and leverages ABB circuit breaker’s built-in sensing and connectivity to provide the information and control functions to reduce total operating costs by up to 30 percent.
ABB Ability is a range of solutions that are digital and connected to allow ABB to support customers and optimize their assets. The ABB Ability™ Electrical Distribution Control System was launched in Europe in 2016.
The smart home has seen impressive technological innovations designed to improve sustainability and reduced energy usage, leading to a drop in associated utility expenditures. But the same is not true for businesses: The “smart store” does not yet exist.
To make the smart store a reality, the same innovations found in the smart home must be applied to brick-and-mortar retail outlets to help them manage energy usage and reduce overhead expenses.
Whether or not a retailer operates in multiple locations, energy costs take up a large percentage of overhead expenses (think refrigeration units at a grocery store or AC units running at a coffee shop on a hot summer day). Without an energy management system in place, these HVAC systems often go unchecked, unnecessarily running through the day and night. Worse yet, their energy costs are assumed to be a necessary, unchangeable factor.
Retailers have an opportunity to save immensely on energy usage and overhead expenses if similar innovations from the smart home carry over to the store. For these businesses, connected devices are the next step in focusing on sustainability while cutting costs, increasing energy efficiency and easing the work of energy managers.
At any given retail location in the United States, it’s likely facility managers are struggling to accommodate employees, customers and their temperature preferences, affecting air conditioners, furnaces and thermostats that maintain pleasant work environments — which costs money. Another expense often overlooked is when employees leave a store at the end of the day. It’s not unusual for the HVAC system to work throughout the night, even when unneeded. There is a lack of communication between the stores and their environments.
To remedy this, some large retailers use expensive, complex energy management solutions to handle their usage and lower their bills; the same types of technology are simply inaccessible to small and medium-sized stores. A major roadblock for interested business owners is the complexity of current systems, which often requires massive infrastructure changes and store downtime. While smart thermostats for the home have been streamlined to simple, elegant devices, retailers have not been so lucky.
An IBM-backed energy startup will attempt to advance the smart grid via a new cloud-based analytics platform designed to forecast renewable energy supplies along with the overall health of a statewide and regional power grids.
IBM (NYSE: IBM) and electric power transmission specialist Vermont Electric Power Co. (Velco) said last week the energy startup called Utopus Insights Inc. would incorporate researchers and intellectual property from IBM’s smart energy team. IBM Fellow Chandu Visweswariah will serve as president and CEO of the energy analytics startup, which is scheduled to begin operations around March 1.
Despite the Vermont focus, the smart energy spin-out from IBM Research will be based in Valhalla, NY. Headquartered in Rutland, Vt., Velco, is owned by several state electric distribution companies. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Electrical grids have become increasingly complex on both the power generation and demand sides, forcing operators to identify new tools for managing fluctuating renewable energy sources, growing energy demand and far-flung assets.
Another factor fueling the energy management startup is the rise of extreme weather. “Increasing extreme weather events coupled with explosive growth in weather-dependent renewable energy sources led Velco to look for new analytical tools to ensure grid reliability,” company CEO Tom Dunn noted in a statement. Velco worked with IBM Research to develop grid management software that will serve as the basis of the Utopus platform.
By 2018, 70 percent of utilities are predicted to launch major digital transformations in response to the challenges faced in their current business model. For utilities, vendors, and regulators, the challenge is not just to examine and optimize existing processes, but also finding entirely new ways of conducting business in a digital grid across a vast number of areas and functions.
In 2015, the International Energy Agency said the U.S. would need to spend $2.1 trillion by 2035 on grid technologies and infrastructure to prepare for higher penetrations of renewables. For the most part, utilities are responding. The inner workings of utility agencies may be an enigma for consumers, but many experts predict increased transparency.
“As distributed energy resources and consumer-driven investments continue to grow, enhanced grid transparency and the ease of access to distribution system information are both key to unlocking the full range of benefits of these resources,” said Sara Baldwin Auck, the Director of the IREC Regulatory Program.
Utility as a Platform
To survive the digital age, utilities are realizing they must market themselves to consumers as something more than just a utility company. From mobile apps to gamification, many utilities are partnering with third party vendors to help users track and control usage, pay bills, report outages, and receive notifications.
“If utility companies can figure out how to become trusted energy advisors and a convenient energy resource, they can increase their validity in the market while helping customers better manage their consumption,” says Yoav Lurie, founder and CEO of Simple Energy, a utility as a platform company that aims to empower people to save energy.
Lurie believes the utility as a platform model is the way of the future for utilities looking to evolve. Utility as a platform uses behavioral science, big data analytics, and digital marketing techniques to change how people save energy and how utilities engage customers.
“Different utilities have different reasons for their energy efficiency and demand response programs, from mandates to avoided capacity costs, but perhaps the biggest draw of the platform is how it changes the customer relationship,” explains Lurie.
TU-Automotive are thrilled to announce that Dan Preston, CEO of Metromile is joining the keynote speaker line-up at Connected Car Insurance Europe 2017 (April 19-20, London).
Dan brings an American flavour to an already prestigious speaker line-up composed of the biggest European insurance carriers. He will be joining the likes of Aviva, Generali, insurethebox, AIG, Zurich, Direct Line Group, RSA, MAPFRE to deliver their insights on the future of the connected motor insurance space.
Dan Preston, CEO at Metromile states: “Metromile is excited to share our journey in creating the 1st pay-per-mile business model in the U.S. and our view of how the future of the connected car ecosystem will lead to new innovation benefitting both consumers and insurers. Europe has demonstrated that they’re ahead in InsurTech and Connected Car Insurance Europe is a must-attend event to connect with like-minded companies and individuals.”
Connected Car Insurance Europe is the leading convergence of the connected motor insurance executives looking to be at the forefront of the impact of vehicle connectivity on traditional insurance models. This year the agenda tackles how to usher in a new era of mobility insurance products powered by usage based insurance data.
Sample of Connected Car Insurance Europe 2017 Speakers:
- Dan Preston, CEO, Metromile
- Paul Heybourne, Head of Innovation & Business Development, Aviva Group
- Steve Hales, Head of Connected Insurance, Generali
- Michael Brockman, CEO, Insure the Box
- Dan Freedman, Head of Motor Development, Direct Line Group
- Simon Gallimore, Senior Manager Complex Claims, AIG
- Andy Price, Practice Leader, EMA – Motor Fleet, Zurich
- Kenny Leitch, Global Head of Telematics, RSA
- Sergio Gomez Recio, Corporate Deputy Director of innovation, Mapfre
- Luigi Barcarolo, Group Head of Connected Insurance Products Roll Out, Generali
- Iwan Parry, Head of Insurance, Transport Research Laboratory
- Manjit Rana, CEO & Founder, Ingenin
- Matteo Carbone, Founder, Connected Insurance Observatory
A comprehensive overview of the event can be found here: http://www.tu-auto.com/connectedcar-insurance-eu/
TU-Automotive is a world leader in providing events and business intelligence to the automotive technology community, covering telematics, mobility, autonomous vehicles and legal & insurance. You can sign up to receive free weekly updates, including exclusive industry analysis, interviews and insights at: www.tu-auto.com
Project Director | TU-Automotive
Office: +44 (0)207 55 19842
Building Management Systems (BMS), or alternatively, Building Automation Systems (BAS), may refer to computer-based systems that monitor, manage and control various electrical and electromechanical functions within a specific facility. Typically, BMS are implemented in large-scale structures, operated by a wide array of critical functions, including:
– Heating, Ventilation & Air-Conditioning (HVAC)
– Power Distribution & Consumption
– Fire Safety/Extinguishing
– Elevator Control
– Security, Observation & Surveillance
– Illumination Control
– Building Access Control
– Renewable Energy
However, as these centralized systems can potentially bring greater efficiency, they are also susceptible to hacking and cyber-attacks due to the interface of the operational technology (OT) landscape with IT/wireless networks and the internet. Since any connected device is vulnerable and controls critical functions within the building, hackers who manage to penetrate the BMS can inflict serious damage to key operations.
Hackers are becoming much more interested in operational technology, the physical connected devices that support industrial processes. They can gain access to email communications and confidential financial information, and worse, they could have the ability to eliminate an organization’s electricity. The nature of the problem depends on the way the BMS is modelled, installed and operated. Until recently, BMS professionals/companies put greater weight on operational efficiency, yet with relatively low consideration of impending security threats. Consequently, many BMS do not employ adequate cyber-security controls and risk mitigation measures.
According to a study by Navigant Research, total global revenue from commercial building automation will increase from approximately $70 billion and reach $101 billion in 2021. The largest market for BMS spending is North America, which is forecast to remain so for approximately two years. The second largest market is Europe, where interest in BMS is gradually rising. However, these markets will lose ground to the APAC market in the coming five years, due to the swift growth of Asian markets, and the construction sector in particular. A study by Pike Research predicts that these three regions will experience double-digit compound annual growth rates in the BMS industry until 2021.
Energy management is of increasing importance to business leaders across many corporate functions, driven by increased energy supply options (including renewables and storage); opportunities to reduce energy use and cost; increased focus on corporate responsibility and sustainability; and significant product innovation across the industry. Energy is no longer considered a line item cost, but a resource that can be optimized and reduced with benefit to the enterprise.
Data are the foundational enabler to all of these activities. Two key sources, utility bill and smart meter data, can be used to enable better decision making, which makes it easier to baseline current energy usage and model potential scenarios to reduce it. In many cases, the difference between successful and unsuccessful facility and energy management initiatives is accurate, timely and complete data.
Unfortunately, there are significant barriers to many building and energy management professionals who are seeking energy data to propose and implement new initiatives. First, the energy market is fragmented, with a few hundred major investor-owned utilities serving most of the major metropolitan areas, and over 3,000 total electricity utilities across the U.S. (including natural gas utilities, the total number of energy suppliers is over 4,500).
Across these utilities, there is a varying range of data made available to customers: in some utility territories, 15-minute interval data is widely available, but in others, only a small set of aggregated monthly totals is provided.
Gas and electricity retailer First Utility began life in 2008 with the proposition of billing people on a monthly basis rather than quarterly and using analytics to help customers lower their bills. It is now the UK’s seventh largest energy supplier.
For CIO/CTO Bill Wilkins digital is all about interactions with the customer.
“Digital transformation is basically allowing customers to interact with us online. We put those digital interactions at the centre of every business strategy and tactic that we deploy,” he said.
“Nine years ago we saw an opportunity to disrupt the consumer energy market by billing people monthly based on real data, making people aware of how much energy they were using and using that data to optimise the pricing model. So we started as a digital company, we acquire almost all our customers through digital channels, and we serve them digitally in the majority of cases in everything they do,” he went on.
“For us digital means something different than what you’ll find in a traditional supplier or in other companies didn’t start off trying to be digital. I use the word ‘trying’ very deliberately because it’s very hard to do. We’ve worked at it day in day out, doing everything we can for our customers to transact online. We’re not perfect, and there are still gaps as to what we can and can’t do.”
Initially First Utility’s digital business model was based around smart meters. Six years ago these were a still a rarity in peoples’ homes, but seeing the opportunity they represented First Utility partnered with US SaaS energy analytics firm OPower to provide new free analytics services called My Energy that used smart meter data. This allowed customers to monitor and adjust their energy usage more easily. Other players have since arrived and the government is pushing smart meters as part of its wider digitisation programme meaning the firm has had to keep innovating to be noticed.
“Our differentiation has been eroded by other people entering the market, and more importantly the government programme making smart metering a de facto commodity for all energy customers by 2020,” Wilkins said. “But we haven’t sat on our laurels and let them catch up.”
Perhaps fortunately for First Utility, the government’s smart meter rollout has run into a series of problems, as covered extensively by V3, giving the firm a bit of breathing space. Wilkins is careful not to criticise the programme, though, pointing out that the government has a lot of different stakeholders to satisfy and any such rollout is inevitably going to be complex.
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Energy-efficient buildings have lower operating costs, but also tend to command higher rents and enjoy higher occupancy and tenant retention levels than traditional buildings. A recent Energy Efficiency Survey, developed by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) in collaboration with the Institute for Market Transformation, looked at what motivates office building owners to improve energy performance. The survey focused on how financial methods used to evaluate capital expenditures impact decisions to invest in improving energy efficiency.
IREM and the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) distributed the survey to their members and received 307 responses, which represented 1.7 percent of the total survey distribution. The survey found that most respondents use simple payback calculations to evaluate energy efficiency projects, usually basing decisions on recovering the investment in one to two years. The study revealed that this simple payback does not capture the full benefits of energy efficiency, like Net Present Value (NPV) analysis, which incorporates potential revenue increases from higher rental income.
The survey also found that building owners are more inclined to invest in energy-efficiency improvements if they can charge higher rents, particularly in split-incentive situations, where energy-cost savings accrue solely to tenants. Split incentives had posed a barrier to investing in improving energy efficiency, but this was overcome with the “green lease,” which requires tenants to participate in energy and water conservation programs.
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