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Posts tagged ‘James Jackson’

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.

Beyond Saving: What’s Next in Supermarket Power Management?

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

Last fall, a gathering of food retailers, industry professionals and energy experts converged in Houston for our latest E360 Forum. This daylong event was packed with the latest news, views and best practices on hot-button industry issues: regulations, emerging technologies and more.

Matt Smith, project manager for San Diego Gas & Electric’s Emerging Technologies Group, and I explored fresh ideas on what the future holds for supermarket power management. What follows are just a few of our observations.

Future of lighting rebates dim

Utility incentive programs for food retailers, in all markets, are changing. Lighting upgrades and retrofits fueled by rebate incentives were once low-hanging fruit for commercial and industrial consumers alike. However, laborious rebate application processes have contributed to waning interest and participation — especially among food retailers. Policy and regulations have also had an impact. As CFL and LED technologies become standard, rebates are no longer seen as necessary to incentivize adoption and won’t help utilities reach their energy-savings targets. Now energy providers are looking for other more innovative and targeted ways to incentivize efficiency.

Collaboration key to more customer-centric incentives

Admittedly, supermarkets are an underserved market for utility companies. There are simply not a lot of programs designed with the distinct needs of grocery retailers in mind. However, Matt thinks this is changing.

“We’re moving toward a more vertical approach on how we run programs in the sense that we’re serving a customer segment rather than a [category] like refrigeration … That will lead to programs that are better suited for specific customer segments like supermarkets or convenience stores.”

Matt went on to say that utilities want to hear from food retailers. They welcome the opportunities to connect and collaborate — either directly or virtually. Many offer cooperative bodies, online forums and other ways to engage. In California, utilities and other energy professionals have created the Emerging Technologies Coordinating Council (www.etcc-ca.com) as way to collaborate, develop and facilitate new and emerging technologies. Other regions offer similar resources and channels.

Pay-for-performance programs offer opportunities for efficiency and innovation

Pay-for-performance programs are another relatively recent energy-efficiency trend — one that doesn’t rely on rebates or other incentive-based equipment purchases. It allows participants to identify various energy-saving measures. Payments are made over time and are based on actual energy savings measured at the meter.

The beauty of pay-for-performance programs is that they can offer an integrated, more holistic approach to energy efficiency. Savings can come from building retrofits and equipment upgrades as well as from behavioral or operational and maintenance activities. These programs also shift the responsibility for energy savings from the utilities to energy-efficiency project implementers — and can be real incubators for innovation, efficiency and new technologies. Less prescriptive and more proactive, they offer greater opportunity for collaboration and invention.

Power markets and effective demand management

Many utilities are incentivizing commercial and industrial customers to participate in demand management/demand response programs. These are developed to cut electric consumption during peak times of the day when electricity is in high demand. Effective demand management rewards customers who can conserve when the grid is taxed the most. While a proven practice in other industries and abroad, these programs are not commonly employed among food retailers in the U.S., even though the opportunities and technologies are available.

The high usage of electricity by supermarkets makes it very attractive to participate in these programs. However, reliability and flexibility in a supermarket’s HVACR and energy requirements are absolutely essential for success. Technologies like today’s smart refrigeration systems and thermal storage are ways to optimize thermal potential by shifting electricity usage at expensive times to lower-rate periods.

More grocery retailers of today are looking hard at current HVACR systems and exploring strategies and technologies to shift energy consumption without compromising food safety. We’re excited about the possibilities.

As I shared, “Demand management is becoming a really big deal using supermarkets. I use the term ‘virtual power plant’ pretty easily in this conversation. If you’ve got a flexible store and can provide thermal storage, you could actually use that store as a virtual asset for the utility. [It creates] a kind of push and pull with the power demand … All this stuff is extremely exciting, especially in this segment or business.”

Demand management programs and today’s power markets represent a real opportunity to generate revenue by using thermal capacity, transforming your energy-eating equipment into an energy asset.

To learn more about any of these programs and the emerging technologies that are driving them, watch the full E360 Forum presentation.

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