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Evaluating Supermarket Energy Management Strategies

JamesJackson_Blog_Image James Jackson | Business Development Manager
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

I recently authored an article for Facility Executive that discussed how energy management systems (EMS) are helping to reshape how the food retail industry approaches energy efficiency and demand planning. Read the full article here.

Evaluating Supermarket Energy Management Strategies

Corporations and consumers alike are always looking for ways to reduce energy costs. Nowhere is this more applicable than in supermarkets, where chains have many energy optimization opportunities among refrigeration, HVAC and lighting systems. The average 50,000 square foot store incurs $200,000 in annual energy costs, resulting in 1,900 tons of CO2 emissions (the equivalent of 360 vehicles) in one year. Of these costs, refrigeration and lighting account for more than 50 percent of total energy usage.

As the energy and utilities sectors continue to evolve, traditional approaches to energy management and demand response must also adapt to the changing landscape. Fortunately, with advances in EMS and controls technologies, food retailers can apply automation to achieve energy best practices. These tools not only provide full building ecosystem optimization but also help operators capitalize on the potential for energy savings via utility energy incentives and available demand management opportunities.

Consumption and Demand — The Difference

Understanding the difference between consumption and demand is essential for energy management planning. Consumption is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh) and refers to the amount of energy used during a billing period. Demand represents the instantaneous energy load that a commercial customer (or building) places on the grid. Utility providers use this for base infrastructure planning and to determine total load requirements of the electrical system. When demand increases, providers must draw from additional — and often more expensive — resources like coal and other fossil fuels.

Utilities measure demand in kilowatts (kW) based upon the actual power a consumer draws. Because demand costs can be potentially higher than consumption — with charges ranging from a few to several dollars per kW — demand can account for a significant portion of a monthly bill.

Evolving Demand Response

Due to the rise of renewable generation, utility providers across the country are rethinking how to develop and deploy demand response programs. Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in California conducted a study that evaluated the state’s energy dynamics. The study showed that California is benefiting from an increase in solar power and the continued shift of demand from midday to evening hours. The addition of smart thermostats and controls in commercial and residential sectors is also helping the state optimize energy consumption.

The LBNL study findings are helping researchers understand the amount of flexible customer load available and evaluate different methods for getting customers to change energy consumption habits, such as time of use, peak pricing programs, and day- and hour-ahead energy market plans.

The opportunity to shift demand is seen as the greatest contributor to future grid flexibility — and potentially one of the biggest opportunities for energy savings.

Energy Management Solutions

Today, advances in EMS software and controls platforms are helping operators connect with utilities and automate their energy management programs. Among other emerging strategies used by supermarket operators are self-generation via thermal and battery storage and grid-interactive buildings.

Self-generation via Thermal and Battery Storage

Most utility providers encourage consumers to implement proven thermal and battery storage options to help shift demand from peak to off-peak hours. The concept of self-generation is simple: thermal (ice) creation and battery charging take place during off-peak hours to store energy that can be used during peak hours to help utilities offset demand.

Grid-interactive Buildings

As IoT-enabled EMS and smart devices provide unprecedented connectivity between consumers and utility companies, opportunities for greater cooperation and energy optimization are also on the rise. At the Department of Energy (DOE), the Building Technology Office (BTO) is conducting research through its Grid-interactive Efficient Building (GEB) initiative. One of their primary goals is to enable buildings to become more responsive to the electric grid conditions.

These and other tools can help facilities improve energy efficiency and achieve operational success in a quickly evolving energy market. At Emerson, we’re helping to simplify energy management challenges with smart EMS software and proven controls platforms designed to help supermarket and restaurant operators connect with utilities and automate energy-saving best practices.

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