Out with the old, in with the new – the future of energy management

SAEEC always endeavors to keep all our members up to date with knowledge sharing, in today’s newsletter we tap into the future of energy management with Bryan Majola.

In 2012 when I started my career in energy efficiency, I had no idea what artificial intelligence entailed. In 2014, I then learnt that it can be applicable in energy management, yet I still didn’t understand what is was exactly. More than anything I thought it was some super hi-tech stuff that only I.T professionals understood and with my mechanical engineering, sales experience and newly acquired energy efficiency background it seemed very out of reach for me. All the articles I read online only spoke about companies in China, Germany and San Francisco. All the case studies and use cases were from these countries as well.

Artificial Intelligence is intelligence displayed by machines, the term ‘artificial intelligence’ is applied when a machine mimics “cognitive” functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as “learning” and “problem solving”.

Let’s fast forward to 2019, where we now encounter artificial intelligence at least once every 24 hours depending where we live and how we interact with technology. Wherever you hear about artificial intelligence, you usually also hear IoT. What is IoT or the ‘Internet of Things’ and why are the world’s leading energy management experts so excited about it?

According to Wikipedia, the “internet of things” is an idea of computer science, where connecting ordinary things like lights, doors, motors or even a substation to a computer network can make these objects more “intelligent”. These things are connected via an embedded system or computer to a network or the internet.

When energy management experts combine artificial intelligence with IoT they are able to create energy management systems or robots, commonly known as ‘Bots’. This is the future of energy management. These systems have the ability to analyse, manage and control energy consumption without human interference, which is known as unsupervised machine learning. I know someof you are thinking “Oh, like Scada. This is nothing new to us.”

A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that Scada can be used to manage, analyse and control energy consumption of the factory or building. Whereas Scada is for controlling production, it has limited hardware, zero energy analysis tools, limited data storage, a very complex setup and is based on the premises. As opposed to Energy Management Bots that are designed to track and analyse energy consumption on the cloud or on premises, are simple to setup, store large amounts of data, and are hardware neutral thanks to REST and SOAP standardisation protocols.

“Well, Bryan, if these Bots are not like Scada, then they are like building automation”. Building automation is designed on the thought that operations will be the same every day. It is pre-set and requires human interference to change it if production or operations change. Existing BMS or Building Automation is configured to turn on the air conditioning at 8am and turn it off at 7pm.

Whereas an energy management bot will know todays expected weather or ambient temperature andmonitor it throughout the day in real time as it changes using the internet and IoT sensors on premise. This allows the Bots artificial intelligence to optimise the air conditioners operations though out the day while maintaining cooling, warming and energy savings.

These Bots can be applied to various parts of energy management in factories, buildings and even the utility grid infrastructure which gave birth to the concept of smart grids, smart buildings and smart factories, under the Industry 4.0 banner.

If the information you’ve found this newsletter has left you wanting more, sign up to attend this year’s SAEEC conference, where more technology will be unpacked by local experts with local case studies (https://confsa.eventsair.com/saeec-2019/register/Site/Register)