13 December 2018

The power of half hourly energy analysis

The factors such as rising energy costs and governmental compliance, being able to measure your energy consumption is growing importance

Why is analysing energy important?

The energy that organisations consume impacts their financial and environmental performance and should be reviewed just as you would sales or staff turnover. With factors such as rising energy costs, increasing consumer expectations, and governmental compliance, being able to measure your energy consumption is of growing importance.

What is energy analysis and what value does it hold?

Energy consumption is understood by comparing the difference between two meter readings. The closer these readings occur, the more detail you are able to attain. Recording intervals can greatly differ, some being monthly, others being every 30 minutes. The second of these examples is achieved through Half Hourly meters which automatically take readings and upload these to the account with your energy supplier. From there, you can download this information in a spreadsheet and perform some simple analysis to get a clear picture of how energy is consumed on-site. The energy source most commonly recorded via Half Hourly readings is electricity, though gas and water data is also obtainable.

Energy data at this frequency of interval can be manipulated using a variety of techniques, such as graphs and heat maps, to give detailed insight into the costs of operations and consumption trends. Below, you can see a heat map of a typical office week and a daily consumption profile on a line graph.

Example Heat Map of Office

Example Weekday and Weekend Profile of Office

The three core outcomes below show the power this data holds when analysed:

Identifying opportunities from wasteful consumption

The first outcome is one which any organisation can utilise and often has the lowest investment cost to capture benefits. It requires a good knowledge of the operations and some assumption of what the patterns of consumption should be. For example, a typical office would see a rise in consumption from a baseline at around 08:00 before levelling out and falling at around 18:00 back to its baseline. Once the actual consumption data is reviewed, where your expectation differs from the reality is where you want to target your efforts. Some recurring themes here include faulty controls or equipment being left on out-of-hours, which can be rectified quickly and to great effect.

Calculating expected savings from efficiency measures

The second outcome is that of projections. Having access to your consumption data allows you to more accurately assess the impact of potential changes to the organisation, be it an increase in activity, adoption of a new technology such as LED lighting, or investment into renewable energy technologies. The ability to model impacts is improved dramatically when able to directly apply the expected changes to actual consumption, improving accuracy and aiding decision making.

Tracking impacts of actions

The third main outcome is that of reviewing the impact of actions implemented. With an understanding of your starting position, the data allows you to effectively track the impact of changes that actually happened and their financial and environmental implications. This is useful for a variety of reasons such as the confirmation of effectiveness for your estimation methods as well as improved setting and monitoring of targets and reporting.

Available Support

Free support for energy data analysis, amongst a variety of other efficiency measures, is available for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises in Scotland through the Resource Efficient Scotland program. This program involves a review of current consumption and operations, identifying resource saving opportunities, calculating impacts and providing a report that opens up opportunities to access interest-free loans for implementation.

This support was recently used by the printing manufacturer Allander Print Limited, a Scott Moncrieff client, to understand the impacts of a lighting and heating upgrade, Solar PV array, as well as a detailed breakdown of their electricity consumption and costs. With regards to analysing their half hourly data and electricity tariffs, information was provided on the economies of scale of their production and quantified benefits of operating at maximum efficiency. Detail was uncovered with regards to the energy-intensive nature of varying operations to understand the impacts of their manufacturing process. Furthermore, modelling the energy generation potential of a 38kW solar array and its impact on their activities was achieved to provide a detailed cost-benefit analysis.

Written by Oliver Byrne of Beyond Green