A solution to track and manage energy consumption

South African businesses will need to put in place intelligent measures in place to measure and adjust their energy consumption patterns in order to cope with a carbon tax regime set to kick in at the beginning of 2015.

While business lobby groups like the Business Unity SA are protesting for a less stringent carbon tax regime, the march towards carbon tax is unlikely to be stopped as concerns of environmental health mounts.

Duncan Ellison, Machine To Machine (M2M) Specialist at FastNet, notes that “The sooner an organisation begins to monitor its energy consumption, the sooner they can begin to put an effective plan in place to reap the benefits of energy savings.”

Coupled with the escalating  cost of utilities (including water, electricity and gas), it is becoming increasingly critical for South African businesses – of all sizes – to implement methods of accurately measuring energy consumption, says Elllison.

The operation of putting in place a comprehensive system to capture energy consumption patterns for an organisation can be a complicated affair. Ellison is punting a wireless system as a less complicated solution.

FastNet, a wireless data service provider, has developed a solution which was exhibited at the Global Green Building Convention at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Ellison says “Historically, energy measurement has proved challenging especially for small and medium sized businesses, but now they can improve energy efficiencies through the use of wireless technology systems designed to enhance energy conservation and translate into real cost savings.”

Ellison points to a recent international example, whereby the Disney European Distribution Centre in the UK achieved a 35% saving on gas and 32% saving on electricity, as well as achieved a return on investment within just four months – following the implementation of a wireless energy monitoring and targeting system.

He explains how the wireless technology system works: “Firstly, a small cellular gateway device (about the size of half a shoe box) is installed at the business’ premises. This device collects data from wireless, sensors, which are placed all over the building and relay energy consumption information in real-time to a website in the cloud.”

The sensors come in a variety of forms, but basically can measure the following: electricity usage, water usage, gas usage, room temperatures and humidity, door opening and closings and video surveillance, says Ellison. “All the sensors are battery powered with a 10 year life span, which saves time because it eliminates the need to wire up the whole building to collect the data. The system can be installed in around one hour, or even less.”

He says the website collects all this data and displays it in a user-friendly format.  “The user can see the amount of energy used and compare it by hour, day, week, month or year. This information can then be used to determine whether the energy saving strategy is working. In addition, the system can also be used to estimate the CO2 emissions used, which could be used for carbon credit trading.”

Ellison says through the use of simple wireless technology systems, energy monitoring can result in significant cost savings for businesses, while also assisting to reduce the carbon footprint in a simpler and quicker manner. “The sooner an organisation begins to monitor its energy consumption, the sooner they can begin to put an effective plan in place to reap the benefits of energy saving”.


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