Reducing costs is a constant commitment among enterprises, and energy management strategies can play a big part in keeping overhead to a bare minimum. As operational efficiency, IoT strategies and corporate sustainability become higher priorities for numerous organizations, how will energy management factor into commercial initiatives in 2017?
1. ROI-Driven Energy Management
Replacing HVAC units with more efficient models and increasing investment in rooftop solar are admirable, but enterprises need to consider the hard costs associated with such endeavors. One may assume that replacing a hot water heater may increase efficiency and lower costs as a result, but that may not be the case.
In 2016, 53% of facility managers pursued no cost or low cost efficiency strategies."
One of the greatest concerns among corporate decision makers is operational improvement. These leaders want to leverage energy management to optimize production. In fact, research and consulting firm Verdantix found that 90% of enterprise energy leaders maintained that operational efficiency is the key motivation for investing in energy management.
Bottom line: Every dollar that goes into energy management must produce a measurable benefit in operations.
2. Renewable Energy Investment
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, non-hydropower renewable generation (solar, wind and geothermal) will account for 9% of total electricity generation in 2017 – a rise of 1 percentage point from 2016. While this gain may seem marginal, it doesn't include commercial investments in the technology from private businesses.
For example, Google announced that it will use renewable power to support 100% of its global operations in 2017. The tech giant has been pursuing this goal for some time. In 2010, for example, the company bought all the electricity from a 114-megawatt wind farm in Iowa.
Renewable energy's a tricky resource, though. Because of its variable output (depending on weather conditions and other uncontrollable factors), companies relying on renewables are forced to hedge their supply with more consistent sources.
Accordingly, companies using rooftop solar and near-site wind need to measure the following:
How much energy will need to come from traditional sources to offset anomalies in renewable production.
The cost of maintaining on-site electrical storage equipment.
3. The Internet of Things Goes Mainstream
Given the increase in renewable energy investment and the need to justify initiatives by way of ROI, it's very likely the Internet of Things and IoT-focused software solutions will become popular tools among facility and operation managers.
For many operations, making the Internet of Things business-as-usual will require smart energy sensors capable of detailing specific assets performance metrics on the individual device level.
At the same time, to bring an extensively self-reporting system fully online within the Internet of Things, you'll need to rely on a fair bit of direct M2M feedback to aggregate readings and compare results before reporting to human users through an analytics portal.
From there, information is made accessible for further data analysis in pursuit of a deeper, more actionable understanding of how energy is being used and misused across assets, zones and teams.
Facility Managers should pay special attention to the following capabilities when considering energy management systems:
- Sensor design that enables the non-intrusive collection of electrical data from individual circuits,
- Remote and wireless connectivity to the aforementioned sensors.
- A Cloud-based platform for analyzing data and processing reports.
The whole point of these energy management solutions is to reduce the amount of work facility managers have to perform in order to acquire highly accurate, highly actionable information.
In 2017, expect such IoT solutions to become the go-to facility management tool for executing energy strategies and gauging ROI. It's gonna be a big year for those corporate decision makers and on-premise managers who do their due diligence and know what to expect!