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Insight into electricity consumption can inform behaviour change

Home Engineering Electrical Insight into electricity consumption can inform behaviour change

FINDING vast amounts of data on the generation, distribution and trade of energy is easy, but there is astonishingly little information on how electricity is consumed – by whom, for what, where, and how much, according to energy management systems executive at CBI-electric: low voltage, Roger Hislop.

“If we don’t know more about how we use energy, we’ll never make the behaviour changes needed for a carbon zero future,” says the executive whose company recently launched an energy management division, CBI:energy.

“Electricity has become a massive and unsustainable cost, and we urgently need to change how we use it,” says Hislop.

Smart controls and digitisation

The built environment produces nearly 50% of the world’s annual CO2 emissions, 27% of which is derived from the energy needed to heat, cool and power buildings. With the 2050 deadline for net zero emissions looming, digitalisation and smart controls could enable efficiency gains that reduce emissions just in time.

“This technology has the power to bring down emissions by 350 million tonnes. It makes sense then that the building energy management system market is set to reach US$10.64 billion by 2027, up from US$5.20 billion in 2021, propelled by rapid urbanisation, surging energy consumption and rising CO2 emissions,” says Hislop.

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it

“Managed smart metering systems can help those in the commercial real estate, office and solar energy markets get real-time understanding of consumption. Facility managers, operational and technical staff, business managers, property owners and managing agents of multi-tenanted sites have until now really struggled to gather, analyse and act on real-time electricity consumption data,” shares Hislop.

He explains that cloud-connected, managed metering systems allow for accurate measurement of both electricity generation and consumption in real-time. “Detailed data must be generated for key metrics like real and reactive power that is consumed or generated, along with useful technical metrics like voltage, current and power factor. The readings from each connected metering device are then rated against peak, off-peak and standard time-of-use electricity tariffs to give detailed current and historic information on what the customer’s rands and cents spend was – and more importantly, how to reduce it.”

 Building a carbon-free future

In the race to at least halve emissions by 2030, countries around the world are addressing climate change by applying building emissions regulations. South Africa is no exception with the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) becoming a legal requirement for commercial buildings over2 000 sqm by the end of this year. “With this and other regulations coming into force, managed smart metering helps to simplify energy management, cost management, and the collection of the detailed data needed for compliance,” says Hislop.

With electricity consumption of buildings alone accounting for nearly a quarter of South Africa’s carbon emissions, CBI :energy has brought out a flexible, cloud-connected managed smart metering system to monitor and manage energy expenditure in the local built environment.

Hislop concludes: “There is an old saying in the electricity industry – the cheapest Watt to generate is the Watt you don’t use. Managed smart metering puts electricity consumers back in control of their spending.”

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