IoT-enabled Power

How digitizing power distribution is taking building safety, reliability, and efficiency to new limits

Introduction: Adapting to a New Energy Paradigm

The way electricity is generated, distributed, and consumed is changing rapidly across the globe.

Whether you design, build, operate, or service office buildings, shopping centers, hospitals, data centers, or college campuses, you’re facing new challenges and opportunities.

There are 4 drivers behind the new energy paradigm:

1. More decentralization

Energy generation is being increasingly decentralized, with solar use on the rise.

  • 34% growth in solar capacity in 2016, following 32% growth in 20151
  • 50% of new energy capacity and storage from solar by 20302
  • 59% year-over-year increase in solar capacity at U.S. commercial businesses3

2. More decarbonization

As the drive toward reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions grows stronger, the buildings industry holds massive potential to reduce GHG emissions.

  • 40% of CO2 emissions in the United States come from buildings, out-consuming both the industrial and transportation sectors.4
  • Green-building certifications in the private sector are considered a badge of performance, with many governments introducing policies to promote climate-friendly buildings.
  • 60% of projects in 70 countries will be green by 2018.4

3. More digitization

Digitization is beginning to touch every aspect of modern society. Intelligent devices are offering bright opportunities for greater efficiency, control, and value.

  • Navigant Research notes the recent trend among owners and operators “transforming their facilities into intelligent buildings, and it’s all centered around the idea of digitization.”5

4. More electricity

Global electricity consumption is on the rise.

  • Global electricity consumption will continue to grow at almost 2% a year,6 demand increasing by 70% by 2040.7

Decentralization, decarbonization, and digitalization will help us manage this demand much better.

In order to create a better world for ourselves — and future generations — we need to change the way we think about energy.

In the past, it was enough to have electrical components that work together to distribute power safely, reliably, and efficiently. But to tap into the full benefits of the new energy paradigm, we all need to take a quantum step in how power and facility performance is managed.

We need smarter tools that manage power reliability and optimize production and consumption.

We need systems that meet sustainability goals and comply with new standards, regulations, and codes.

We need infrastructure that ensures electrical components and systems are easy to implement and keeps people and property safe and secure from cyberattacks.

We need a holistic approach to managing electrical power.

Though facility managers are well aware that building management systems (BMS) typically include automation capabilities, many may be less aware of the recent advances in power distribution system technology.

By embracing the latest advances in digitization, businesses can take advantage of:

  • Power networks with embedded intelligence that enable greater levels of understanding and control
  • Integrated and scalable energy assets and systems that allow facility and service teams to quickly reveal and respond to risks and opportunities
  • New analytic applications that provide tools to accelerate and simplify decision-making

Chapter 1: Digitize to Gain Deeper Insight

The first step toward an intelligent power distribution system is digitization.

Digitization with smart devices helps new or legacy facilities go beyond energy initiatives to optimize power reliability and maintenance.

In the intelligent buildings market, the IoT is … the construct for actionable information. An infrastructure of devices for sensing, controlling, and communicating equipment and facility-use data is redefining the capabilities of intelligent building software. Actionable insights, meaningful opportunities — these ideas are the crux of value in digitization.”5

Smart devices are at the core of smart power distribution for buildings.

Advances in computational power, accuracy, integration, and communication have enabled a new era of IoT. A new breed of smart devices has emerged, including advanced energy and power quality meters, protection relays, and circuit breakers.

Smart devices have become more than actuators. Today, they can:

  • Enable personnel to access the power distribution network and provide control functions
  • Capture and analyze a wide range of data, characteristics, and performance information
  • Meter power, power quality, and other utilities such as water, compressed air, gas, or steam (WAGES)
  • Embed intelligence inside other kinds of equipment, allowing for autonomous control

It’s now possible to meter energy use at every key point of your facility’s power network.

These advances give you a higher level of detail, allowing you to:

  • Optimize for efficiency and savings
    Energy waste can be pinpointed, whether due to equipment malfunctions, occupant behavior, or the need to optimize HVAC setpoints.
  • Address risks before they cause downtime or damage
    Devices with features like integrated control capabilities, real-time and logged data, and alarm notifications help teams take action remotely.
  • Adapt and expand intelligence as your business grows
    Meters, circuit breakers, and distribution systems are compact, compatible, and customizable, making it easy to increase intelligence as your operations grow.
  • Enable distributed, digitized devices to connect
    The latest communication technologies allow smart devices to connect together to deliver the full promise of the IoT.

Chapter 2: Connect to Real-time Vision and Control

Connectivity gives operations and maintenance teams remote control and real-time access to data.

On the road to “zero net energy” facilities, the biggest game-changer is interconnectivity.8 With digitization enabling deep access to real-time and historical energy consumption and power conditions, connectivity is the next important part of the story.

Smart devices are at the center of the new trend in preconfigured smart panels. The newest devices offer a number of communication options, from parallel communication links for added resilience in critical applications, to onboard web servers that make recorded data accessible from web browsers.

The two biggest benefits of seamlessly connected smart devices are asset control and supervision and data insights.

Benefit #1: Energy assets are supervised.

The flexibility and extensibility of connected networks allow important energy assets to be supervised, including emerging distributed energy resources (DER).

faster proliferation of DER than central station generation in the U.S. between 2015–20199

For example, these systems can be more accurately metered and controlled to ensure they operate at peak efficiency:

  • Onsite solar generation and energy storage can be carefully monitored and coordinated to maximize value.
  • Electric vehicle charging stations can be metered, with their rates altered for periods of lower use.
  • Large numbers of smart devices can keep watch over a facility’s energy assets, or even across an entire campus.

Benefit #2: Data becomes actionable insights.

Power infrastructure data can be collected and transformed into insights that help enable collaboration and, ultimately, optimize energy production and consumption.

Here’s how it works:

  • Cloud-based apps collect and aggregate power system data.
  • Smartphone-ready digital logbooks track equipment and maintenance activity.
  • Power system data is transformed into actionable insights.
  • Information and insights are shared with facility personnel and service partners.
  • Smarter decisions can be made to optimize energy use.

By integrating power and building management systems (BMS), data can be shared or embedded between systems and platforms. This helps put insights in context, while enabling teams to gain a wider vision from a single, unified interface.

But increased connectivity also requires additional security.

With all of these new connections between smart devices, panels, systems, and the cloud, the threat of cyberattacks has become a growing concern both inside and outside of the buildings industry.

To ensure security, many manufacturers now follow a disciplined process that includes:

  • Providing security training for developers
  • Adhering to security regulations
  • Conducting threat modeling and architectural reviews
  • Ensuring secure code practices
  • Executing extensive security testing

Chapter 3: Uncover Opportunities and Risks Using Energy Analytics

New analytic applications can be used to optimize costs and avoid penalties.

With a network of smart devices in place, as well as connectivity enabling data aggregation across a building or campus, facility teams are ready to take the next step toward operational efficiency.

But Bhavesh Patel of ASCO Power Technologies cautions that the result of having so many smart sensors is “big data” — putting the onus on facility managers to interpret and extract value.10

Fortunately, advanced analytic software is available today to help make sense of everything.

Leaders across all teams can get actionable insights and energy data tailored to their needs.

  • Share information across the enterprise.
    Raising energy awareness can encourage energy-efficient behaviors, while allocating costs to cost centers or tenants can lead to actions that reduce energy consumption.
  • Get a complete picture of your energy consumption.
    Dashboards and reports help compare performance, enabling teams to set baselines, accurately track the progress of efficiency initiatives, and validate savings.
  • Support corporate sustainability reporting.
    Automatically calculate GHG emissions and your total carbon footprint to have more sustainable properties and create differentiation in the marketplace.11

You can maximize your facility’s power infrastructure usage without compromising reliability.

New energy applications can be used to:

  • Model and predict energy needs using account energy pricing and weather forecasts or onsite metering to validate utility bills and uncover potential errors.
  • Enable participation in programs such as demand-response by using signals received from the smart grid to coordinate deployment of onsite DER.
  • Find cost efficiencies by determining the most cost-effective periods to either self-consume renewable energy resources or recharge onsite energy storage.
  • Improve breaker maintenance by using new techniques to predict breaker aging, allowing teams to repair or replace when necessary, and to improve service continuity by catching high-risk situations before failures can occur.

With analytic tools as the microscope revealing hidden risk and opportunity, managed services can deliver even greater rewards.

Conclusion: Achieve the Ultimate Performance

Get digitization, connectivity, and advanced analytics — all in one platform.

Now more than ever, teams need insight and control over electrical power. Today, smarter power distribution systems have arrived.

Schneider Electric has been leading power distribution innovation for more than 50 years. And, once again, we are redefining power distribution to help you take full advantage of the new decentralized, decarbonized, and digitized energy paradigm.

EcoStruxure™ Power is our latest advancement — a digital, open architecture that makes it easy for our partners and customers to leverage the latest breakthroughs in power distribution to take reliability, safety, efficiency, sustainability, and connectivity to the next level.

Our unified, IoT-enabled EcoStruxure Power architecture delivers innovation at every level, from connected products to edge control, apps, analytics, and services.

Together, these innovations are unifying all aspects of power and energy management into a single, secure platform that’s accessible anywhere, anytime, for those who need it.

With EcoStruxure Power, you get:

Smart power distribution

By driving active energy management with real-time usage optimization, stakeholders in buildings and smart districts are contributing to a flexible and sustainable grid ecosystem through demand-side energy integration.

Apps, analytics, and services

Improve efficiency, occupant comfort, and productivity without increasing in-house staffing by using cloud-based services that support the entire building and power distribution life-cycle.

Security and peace of mind

Schneider Electric provides partners and customers with full documentation, secure deployment instructions, security lifecycle services, and responsive assistance and support when incidents and vulnerabilities are reported.

Are you a building owner or part of a facility team?

EcoStruxure Power helps you make sure power is available, operational costs are optimized, and maintenance is performed on a predictive, preventive basis.

Are you a specifying engineer, contractor, or panel builder?

EcoStruxure Power gives you the peace of mind that power architectures are proven and interoperable, while making your job easier.

With EcoStruxure Power, you’ll be prepared for today and for an even brighter future.

Additional Resources