Building Automation: Making Money with BAS Mash-Ups
A $900 billion market opportunity was identified for the industry to make the national grid smart and wise with interactive connectivity. GridWise demand response (DR) and GridWise devices are able to provide quicker response time than existing generation control.
GridWise is an entirely new way to think about how we generate, distribute, and use energy. Using advanced communications and up-to-date information technology, GridWise will improve coordination between supply and demand, and enable a smarter, more efficient, secure, and reliable electric power system. This is the reason that the generation folks are willing to invest in our industry. Conservation and DR coupled with smart grid approaches are being billed as the new fuel for the electrical grid.
The critical shortage of electricity in the U.S. is driving utilities and regional independent system operators (ISOs) to offer significant incentives on electricity loads that can be curtailed at peak times. Issues driving the need and opportunity of DR include spiralling energy costs, shortage of electric generation at peak periods, demand for energy-efficient green buildings, increased awareness for reducing the carbon footprint, and availability of communication and control technologies.
Power outages cost U.S. business at least $50 billion a year, according to Electric Power Research Institute estimates. When given the opportunity to prevent the electrical grid from going down or dropping to a lower level of electrical use it is a “no brainier” as to our decision. The thought of computer screens going black, servers down, critical lighting going off, and loss of other essential services strikes fear in our hearts.
The mash-upThe term mash-up refers to a new breed of Web-based applications. This is certainly a new breed of application for our industry where we take the traditional and non-traditional Web-based connections of BAS and combine them with real-time power information to create a smart grid with wisdom. Of course, this must all be done with the least amount of interruption to the building. Listed below are some of the loads that we can reduce if problems occur on the grid or for electrical peaks that only occur a few hours per year.
Seeing the lightDaylighting control presents a tremendous building load that can be gracefully reduced to meet smart grid requirements. Dimming on demand would cause little disruption (certainly less than a blackout) and has the added advantage of reducing refrigeration, and fans and pumps loads. Daylighting as a concept can stand on its own based on the savings it generates and works very well in the BAS integration model. Careful building orientation and design allows daylighting to provide significant contributions. Light-guiding blinds, coupled with strategically placed windows and skylights, bring daylight deep onto the building and provide an abundance of diffused, low-glare lighting.
Photosensors constantly monitor outdoor lighting levels and controllers automatically adjust the fluorescent lighting to maintain the desired ambient levels. Carefully directed daylight and dimmable fluorescent lighting combine to provide optimal lighting levels whenever the space is occupied. Sensors prevent any energy waste. Additional energy savings can be achieved by using occupancy sensors throughout the building and grounds to ensure that lights are not on unless the space is in use.
Then roll in the rolling stock opportunityFans, pumps, chillers, etc., make up the rolling stock in a building. Almost all these devices are now fitted with speed control to optimize their energy operation. This again presents a great potential to quickly and gracefully give back electric demand. This of course is only possible with smart metering.
The mash-up binderSmart metering first caught on with utilities as a way to cut the cost of individually reading every meter. This initiative has been elevated now to an advanced metering initiative and California is on the forefront of the effort with rules that their commission passed requiring that all meters be capable of providing interval data and that communication links be provided to all customers. This opens up the capability to redefine the way customers make decisions about using electricity and how they are charged for it. The California vision of advanced metering focuses on customer-oriented or demand-side solutions. The idea is to create a technology and pricing policy foundation that links customer rates with the market price for energy. More specifically, it seeks to provide customers with information and real capability to better manage their energy bills.
Contact your local electrical utility or ISO to better understand this new opportunity and its value to you.