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Risk Mitigation in Energy Efficiency Projects using an EMS

Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) continue growing in the UK and in Europe to serve all those businesses that want to implement energy efficiency projects.

Many factors including the rise in prices, the increasing awareness of the impact of energy consumption as well as the availability of subsidies have led thousands of companies to implement energy-saving measures. In this transition, Energy Service Companies play a central role in ensuring the success of these energy efficiency projects.

But it’s not that easy…

Meeting the ever-increasing demand while facing a lack of experience and resources is a real challenge. Unpleasant surprises may also be experienced when analysing a building, either because of differences between forecasts and actual consumption or because of possible problems in the customers’ installations.

Has this already happened to you?

An energy management system can be your ally as it will help you assess each case quickly and reliably so that you close more projects. Discover in this article the three main steps to follow that will reduce your next projects’ risks.

Smart and Digital Energy Management for your ESCO

Step 1: Preliminary Analysis and Energy Audit of your Potential Customers

Before getting started with a project, you need to gather basic information regarding your customers such as their consumption and spending patterns.

The most commonly used strategy is getting your building(s) energetically audited. The only negative aspect of this kind of assessment is the amount of time it can take. For instance, imagine that your client has a portfolio of 30 buildings spread over several regions and you have to visit them all…

Fortunately, there is a better way to do it than sending a professional to each building to monitor: Virtual auditing through an energy management system.

An EMS such as the DEXMA Platform can make an initial analysis of the consumption of the building(s) you want to evaluate. In this way, you will be able to have a first overview to determine in which areas to take action and which measures to implement.

The best part? To carry out this analysis, you won’t need to install meters or specific technology. Indeed, your EMS can take data from any available source of information (existing electricity or temperature meters, or bills, for example).

DEXMA Platform will compare your client’s consumption with same-type buildings stored in the database. This includes buildings in a similar geographical area, operating in the same sector, with the same weather conditions or with similar consumption patterns.

This assessment is done through non-intrusive load monitoring technology for virtual disaggregation (NILM). Yes, it might sound quite complex, but if you are an energy professional you already know this terminology.

In other words, the system can collect data from electricity meters, as an example, to identify existing devices and their consumption both globally and individually. In addition, the DEXMA Platform issues reports on savings measures that you can start implementing based on the initial study.

This step will help you evaluate your initial client. You will then be able to identify possible risks and opportunities in the project and decide accordingly. Note that this analysis can be done without any commitment.

Step 2: Defining the Energy Baseline and your Budget

Once you have an overview of your customer and their needs, it is time to consider the budget and energy savings targets. You will need to ask yourself this kind of questions: How much will I charge? Will my initial idea match the needs to be met? Will the budget be linked to results? What measures will I focus on?

Let us now define the term energy baseline. This is the “ideal” consumption of a building, a projection of how much an efficient building should consume according to its characteristics. It can be calculated based on a mathematical model or on time ranges, using historical consumption data and influential variables such as temperature, degree days etc. 

How calculating this baseline will help you to reduce risks in your projects?

It will be very difficult to evaluate your results without knowing the optimal consumption of a building or part of a building. A calculated baseline will help you set targets, calculate potential savings and monitor the energy efficiency project.

Baseline calculation is another task that you can automate if you use an EMS. The system will provide you with a series of pre-established parameters. It will offer you the possibility to simulate various consumption scenarios and thus, analyse various options. For instance, you will be able to enter consumption parameters, meteorology, time, etc.

Is it a standardised automatic calculation? Yes and no, in the sense that the EMS automates the process but does not offer a one-size-fits-all solution. You can add elements of importance to your project to adjust the forecasts to your needs and those of your client.

Of course, there are various internal and external factors that can affect your calculation such as your client’s situation or the weather. However, when a baseline is established in agreement with your client this will increase your transparency, credibility, and ensure clear targets based on a solid calculation.

Step 3: Implementation of the Energy Efficiency Project and Saving Measures

The moment of truth has arrived: the project was launched and the effectiveness of the measures and the savings generated must be demonstrated.

Based on the parameters defined in the previous steps, you will now want to measure the outcome of your actions and verify whether the savings generated match those previously planned. 

They do? How nice! Not only is the project going as expected, but you may still have room for further improvements.

You are not reaching your objectives? No problem, if you find out in time you can still re-evaluate and analyse the data to come up with alternatives or adjustments.

To compare your actual consumption with the previously defined projections (baseline), and to know if you reach your targets, there are Measurement and Verification (M&V) projects. While you might enjoy the challenge of doing these calculations and evaluating the details manually using Excel, it can get tougher yet overwhelming when you have multiple clients and projects to monitor.

Fortunately, an energy management system is designed to help you with this task. Through the international IPMVP protocol (International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol), you can verify your customers’ energy efficiency measures.

You can do this on an individual basis, to assess whether a particular measure is working, or for the building as a whole. It will depend on your client’s needs and what you have agreed beforehand. In this article,you can find more technical details about M&V projects, visualisation of savings and calculation methods. 

Again, implementing an EMS will help you detect both successes and failures directly, without having to wait for the evaluation of your results and return on investment.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of an EMS for your Energy Service Company watch the recording of the webinar here . You will find out how to use an EMS in the various phases of your projects, and how to implement it. 

Smart and Digital Energy Management for your ESCO