: Effective energy management is key to handling the growing hunger for more energy. Learn how multiple roles enable a growing need, and 3 trends that have spawned innovative solutions.
The world is hungry for energy, and this appetite is growing as we become more reliant on mobility, automation, and distributed computing and services. The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that between 2015 and 2040, world energy consumption will grow by 28%. Simultaneously, effective energy management is becoming more critical to maintain a reliable and affordable supply.
At the highest level, energy management refers to the planning and operations used to make energy, deliver energy, and consume energy.
Energy management can happen:
- ● At a governing or regulatory level
- ● Within the public or private sectors
- ● At any size or type of organization
- ● At the individual household level
An energy management system (EMS) uses software to control energy infrastructure and is most commonly used in buildings, large facilities, and multi-facility campuses. Infrastructure and computing resources (hardware and software) are essential for energy management, as is knowledge about resources and critical requirements for generation, transmission, and distribution—such as safety guidelines and regulations.
Who works in energy management?
EMS specialists could work in energy generation, transmission, or distribution. This includes utilities and businesses that make energy-infrastructure equipment and energy management system software, and/or provide EMS services. Another group involved in energy management are owners of power systems that supply energy to residential, commercial, and industrial buildings and campuses.
Generally, these specialists are power system engineers/managers who work to further organizational goals and guidelines, such as controlling cost, reducing consumption, and/or using renewable energy sources. Here, too, third parties that make equipment and tools—or provide outsourced professional services—are involved in energy management. They can help power system owners “see” how energy is used through digital representation and then suggest a variety of solutions (i.e., metering, dashboards, microgrids, etc.) to meet organizational goals.
EMS providers could also have access to knowledge about current market conditions and procurement practices. This is important because energy availability and prices can vary based on factors that range from commodity shortages, to the time of day or night that energy use peaks.
Effective energy management has become critical
Reliable and resilient energy obviously is critical for organizations supporting public health and safety, such as hospitals; but these days reliable and resilient energy is also critical for private businesses. Executives used to think about energy solely as a cost, but many now consider it a strategic resource. As more services and goods are delivered digitally, and work requires 24/7 access to back-office applications, energy has to be available or companies lose productivity and revenue.
Another trend putting energy management in the spotlight is consumers’ expectations for brands and public sector agencies to operate with more sustainable practices. Business and government leaders are now paying more attention to how their groups source and use energy. Reducing reliance on carbon-based resources is a particularly common goal.
The new energy landscape and energy management
These trends have spawned innovative solutions for what is known as the “three Ds and E.” That is, decarbonization, digitization, decentralization, and more electrification. Often these solutions are an alternative to older energy grid infrastructure that is still operational but not able to meet power system needs.
Microgrids also are made up of local energy sources, which is helpful for using renewable sources such as solar panels; and they put more control in the hands of energy consumers.
More and more, energy management involves assessing energy needs in terms of newer solutions and technology such as microgrids, and then working with specialists who can help determine the best equipment, software tools, and financing options for each unique case.
Energy management and energy management systems are certainly not new, but they are becoming a more critical part of ensuring a safe and reliable energy supply for everyday life. Fortunately, EMS equipment and software has evolved to support more effective energy management as global consumption continues to rise.