Industrial Energy Management - Lower Electrical Utility Expenditures

Industrial Energy Management - Lower Electrical Utility Expenditures

 
By Bill Lydon - Editor
 
According to Bob Zak, president and general manager for PowerIt Solutions, many industrial plants are under pressure from management to reduce electricity costs.   PowerIt Solutions provides software and products designed to lower electrical energy costs in industrial plants while maintaining production operations and quality at planned levels. The system, based on their Spara EMS WEB based appliance, uses sophisticated load shedding algorithms and real-time pricing interface to achieve savings.
 
The company reports that facilities using the Spara EMS have reduced peak demand and experienced 10% to 20% reductions in total energy bills, with most customers receiving 100% payback on investment in less than two years.
 
PowerIt Solutions started in 2002 and the technology was first developed by a group of engineers associated with Lund University in Sweden. The technology was adopted by companies throughout Scandinavia. In 2008, the U.S. and European operations were formally merged, creating a strategically aligned company with more than 2,500 installations.
 
How It Works
The PowerIt Solutions uses the SparaEMS WEB based real-time applications appliance controller that supervises power demand levels and controls energy loads to keep demand peaks within user-defined limits. It uses real-time energy usage and cost data by connecting to the facility’s utility meters.  Predictive algorithms allow the systems to identify short, precisely-timed load reduction opportunities. The system continuously calculates the volatility of the factory’s energy use at any point in time to do a highly refined projection for control. The goal is to do the minimum amount of control to save the maximum amount of electrical cost.
 
Spara EMS allows the user to configure as many operational rules and constraints as necessary for each controlled load so that energy savings do not negatively affect productivity, human comfort, or safety. By properly managing energy demand in conjunction with known utility cost thresholds and operational constraints, Spara EMS significantly reduces overall energy costs.
 
Spara EMS predicts, regulates, and lowers facility peak electrical demand to significantly reduce utility charges. Here’s how the process works:  
  1. Spara EMS gathers real-time meter data.
  2. The system calculates load curtailment to meet target.
  3. Available loads are evaluated and categorized for reduction.
  4. The system takes coordinated action to reduce peak charges and avoid disruption to production.
  5. The system confirms reduction using meter data.
  6. Savings are verified and documented via reports.
Configuration and reports are all done using standard internet browsers since this device is a WEB server.
 
 
 
The SparaEMS can control loads directly or communicate with existing industrial, process, and building automation systems to save energy. PowerIt Solutions has a number of interface options including OPC, and hardware interfaces to popular industrial networks.
 
Wireless I/O is also offered with the company’s Spara Konnekt Wireless Technology that is specifically designed for industrial and commercial applications.
 
Intelligent Demand Response – Smart Grid
PowerIt Solutions Intelligent RTP Control supports demand response to change electric energy usage in response to real-time electricity rates. Intelligent RTP Control is implemented utilizing Spara’s embedded real-time pricing matrix in order to set different curtailment strategies to match specific pricing levels. For instance, when prices are low, the user may only want a minimal reduction of loads to take place. However, as prices rise, curtailment may become more aggressive. Settings made to the real-time pricing matrix are custom to each user and may be modified at any time to meet changing requirements.
 
Intelligent RTP Control also addresses the problems created by a lack of common communication standards among energy providers.  With Intelligent RTP Control, the real-time pricing server can take information from a utility, in any format, and convert it to a standard output that is then integrated into the Spara automated control structure at the site. Even if communication is interrupted by the utility, it will be detected by the system and corrected before it results in a missed savings opportunity or a high price spike.
 
Standardization of grid communications is an ongoing project. In support of nationwide efforts by organizations such as the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to develop standards, PowerIt is adopting and integrating emerging initiatives such as the OpenADR protocol.
 
A Controller Named Spara?
Spara is Swedish for "to save" – a fundamental benefit of the products. The company explains that using the name Spara also pays homage to the roots of the company’s original technology developed in 1994 in Sweden, a country known as a world leader in the development of green initiatives and home to PowerIt Solutions’ European headquarters.
 
Overlay or Integrate?
The PowerIt Solutions system adds electrical demand control as an overlay to existing control and automation systems utilizing the existing I/O and industrial communications structure.   This functionality could all be accomplished within the industrial control system using PLC or DCS logic.   There are tradeoffs that are specific to the particular plant.
 
Programming this type of control into an existing system may well create a level of complexity that is difficult to manage and maintain. The really hard part is creating a software structure for the operating rules that become part of the control logic to make load control decisions. A product such as PowerIt Solutions has invested in refining this logic which is not trivial.   An overlay system may be easier to sell to management since the cost and payback can be very clear.
 
Energy management accomplished within the industrial control system using PLC or DCS logic will be more integrated and if the engineers have a deep understanding of the production processes may well save more energy.
 
On balance, the overlay may be the best approach and refinements in the existing PLC or DCS logic can be added over time. As energy management gets integrated into the fabric of automation systems, this may change.
 
More Information: www.poweritsolutions.com