Service portal for Monitoring Energy Efficiency

The aim of the project SPEU was the development and test of a cloud computing service for energy efficiency monitoring implemented in the form of the web portal. 

The main target of the project was to address the limitations by designing energy monitoring applications on a cloud computing platform. The idea of the application is to bring the monitoring information from several end users, in this case SME’s and other commercial customers, to the common workspace enabling the inter-company comparison of energy efficiency processes based on the common efficiency indicators.

The project received co-funding from the Slovenian Ministry of Economy and European regional funds within the Slovenian national development programme "e-storitve 2012”. 

The energy management process consists of four steps. Two of these were addressed by the project application:
  • Measuring of production or consumption: The measuring is provided on the aggregated level of the consumer as well on the particular appliance.
  • Calculation of energy (consumption) efficiency. The service defines the energy efficiency indicators, which are calculated automatically and presented to the consumer in the form of reports.

Picture: Energy management steps, source: project SPEU, presentation at CLASS Conference 2014, 25.09.2014, Bled

The project background was developed from the hypothesis that energy monitoring systems in the industrial sector are not exploited as much they could be. The main limitations noticed were 1) information collected by the system remained within the technical sector and out of the business domain, 2) the evaluation of the energy consumption was limited to single consumers, not rendering external and/or global comparisons and 3) relatively large installation and maintenance cost prevent small end users to invest in applications and equipment.

The goal of the project was to build an end-user oriented application. Therefore, a close cooperation with the consumers during its development was foreseen. It was decided to include two representatives of large-scale consumers as consortium members into the project and to intensively cooperate with them during the development. One consumer was a representative of the motor industry with several locations while another was representing an office building. The plan was to address other candidates later – after finishing the pilot stage - for testing. 

The project had two integration stages. The end users were directly involved into the development and design of the application in a technical process on the one hand side. On the other hand side, they were involved in the design of the specific feedback information and end user experience.

The cooperation with the S3C project provided a benefit for both projects, especially with regards to the design of the feedback and the end user experience. Based on S3C guidance, the SPEU project staff readjusted the feedback systems and consumption targets for their trial in an office building.

The project tested the following guidelines:
  • Guideline: How to make energy visible through feedback
  • Guideline: User-centred KPIs for the evaluation of smart grids 
  • Guideline: KPIs for energy consumption effects
One of the testing results was a design of additional performance indicators, which included the economic component and gave concrete information to the user responsible for energy consumption.

Another impact of S3C was the enhancement of the end user interaction. The SPEU project designed an additional communication channel (web form displayed on screens) of the actual consumption. The presentation was intended for the employees of SME’s in the tech and engineering sector sharing an office building to increase their energy awareness. It is additionally accessible via a display at the entrance hall.

Picture: Energy feedback as implemented in the SPEU project, source: the S3C consortium

The cooperation with the S3C also included the interaction with the KIBERnet active partner. The SME representatives from KIBERnet also agreed to participate in a short evaluation test of the SPEU project and helped to define some additional performance indicators. The project SPEU was set up to the pilot stage for a proof of concept and to prepare it for the commercial use. The consumer representative from the industrial branch was selected according to the personal contact and included into the project as a consortium partner. Later during the project, another consortium partner with smart metering installations in its office building also participated in the role of a consumer in the project.

The end user interaction is provided through the advanced web portal, where they were faced with their consumption and values of efficiency indicators and historical comparison. The application also supports the configurable notification system, which informs the consumers about e.g. unexpected deviations of the consumption via e-mails.

The consumers played active role in the project. They were directly involved in the development of the application as well in its testing and generation of feedback. The company INEA was the project leader of SPEU. It was one-year project, which has started in June 2013. Collaboration with the S3C project started in the summer 2014 when the SPEU started to look for testing and evaluation options on one side and the S3C project provided some interesting and relevant guidelines.
The first workshop served to create an overview of the existing guidelines. It has been identified that the guidelines regarding evaluation were the most interesting and relevant for the project. The SPEU project may also provide important material for the guidelines regarding the performance indicators.

The second workshop was organized together with the KIBERnet partners. The intention was to present the options of the web portal and invite the partners for participation. The outcome was that the four industrial consumer representatives agreed to offer their data for testing.
The following guidelines were evaluated: 
  • Guideline: How to make energy visible through feedback
  • Guideline: User-centred KPIs for the evaluation of smart grids 
  • Guideline: KPIs for energy consumption effects
The guidelines regarding the performance indicators were used to elaborate ideas about definition of the KPIs and corresponding data processing (in the case of the project, they were used to decide on the desirable target for energy consumption in real time within the office building). 
The end user feedback guideline was used for active inclusion of the employees of the office building in the project. Based on the different available types of feedback information presented in the guideline, the consumers were enabled to make a decision on which information was of particular relevance to them. Based on the information, a feedback display app was devised and presented at a prominent place in the entrance hall of the building that is divided into different offices for mostly tech-companies and engineering firms. It is important to note here, that industrial/technical/engineering focus of the companies in the office building led to a preference for more technically-oriented feedback than it was the case in the active and passive partners activating residential customers. The employees of the firms have sufficient "energy proficiency” to understand the histograms and block diagrams presented in the feedback app.

The picture above is a photograph of the implemented feedback instrument. The feedback instrument’s purpose is to be as informative as possible and targets the technology-oriented engineers and scientists working in the office buildings. Furthermore the feedback app was implemented to help bring about the target that the companies working in the office building have set for themselves. Based on the advice in the feedback guideline, the companies have decided to implement the concept of energy consumption targeting by means of feedback. The consumption targeting information needed to be sourced from the performance indicator, which should provide reliable information about the consumption efficiency. The finding that the evaluation guidelines need to be used synchronously with the end user feedback guideline was one of the main results of testing. In fact, the blue line at the bottom of the screen in the picture above indicates the target power in real time (in this case 20kW). The optimum power is dynamically recalculated according to how many employees are present at the time. 

The chart diagram on the right side shows the total deviation form the target in kWh on the daily level. Blue indicates that consumption was lower than the target and red over the target. The consumption is very much dependant on occupancy of the building, therefore also presence is measured in real time.

The block diagram on the left side of the screen indicates the power consumed in the building in real time. The different colours refer to the different floors of the office buildings (cellar, ground floor, upper floors, lodgers etc.) to render the individual consumption of the different companies in the office building transparent.

Overall, the S3C guidance helped the commercial customers represented in the office building and the SPEU project to devise a new feedback channel that is tailored to the information requirements of technology oriented SMEs. Furthermore, the process led to a commitment and goal setting process within these SMEs that agreed to using less energy, i.e. making the most efficient use of energy.

Visit our S3C Toolkit at: http://www.smartgrid-engagement-toolkit.eu/