Why am I consuming so much electricity and why do I have so many power peaks in my company?
These are questions that most entrepreneurs in the manufacturing industry ask themselves, especially when the energy supplier sends an extra invoice for exceeding the supply capacity.
TQ-Automation has the answer to this problem, with a product range that enables both an overview of energy consumption and automated switching of consumption points. In addition, it affords a new approach to e-mobility.
The term "peak performance" is used in various areas of the energy industry. Within our context, peak power refers to the highest amount of electricity required by an industrial or commercial company. The power level is normally determined over 15-minute intervals.
Peak capacity is only required for a relatively short time and is included in the energy costs if the company pay a supply-based tariff. The higher the peak power, the higher the costs to be paid, because the energy supplier must provide this power when it is needed. This means that the infrastructure to be provided by the energy supplier, such as transformers and lines, must be designed to accommodate the peak supply – which makes peak performance expensive.
The goal of every company must therefore be to keep peak performance and thus costs as low as possible. This is difficult or even impossible without the appropriate technology, because manufacturing companies have to operate a dozen different machines simultaneously, each of which has a high connected load. Without technical aids, it is not possible to manually control the output of the various machines, which may also be located spatially separated in different halls, in such a way that no maximum accumulation of the power requirement occurs.
The installation and evaluation of suitable measurement technology makes it possible to identify when the power consumption of machines and systems tends to increase steadily.
If, for example, a refrigeration system lacks coolant, it can consume up to three times more energy than normal. This has been repeatedly confirmed by measurements and comparisons of identical devices. Increased consumption can also be caused by wear, or by defective controllers.
These are things that would go unnoticed without measuring technology. The Energy Manager from TQ Automation, together with the sensor bars, provides exactly the functions that are required to record individual energy consumption levels, display them transparently and evaluate them.
Thanks to its patented technology, it can be installed decentrally in all plant components. The sensor bars are then used to measure the energy consumption of individual machines or their aggregates, for example. The measuring equipment is connected to higher-level monitoring systems via a Modbus interface.
With regard to the data, it should be noted that peak performance is often measured on an annual basis. The highest peak in the year defines the power price. When using load management, the question now arises as to how these capacity peaks can be detected, reduced and kept as low as possible with the help of technical equipment. This is where energy management comes into play, as described in ISO 50001, for example. The standard defines how energy flows are recorded, divided into different areas and ultimately documented – always with the aim of drawing conclusions from the results and defining measures to achieve savings in power consumption and energy costs.
It goes without saying that the implementation of these measures will also be reviewed and that further measures will be defined and implemented in the following steps. The first step towards load management is to install a suitable measuring system. Data can be collected easily with the TQ Automation Energy Manager and sensor bars. The power consumed is measured in real time and transmitted to the load management system developed by TQ Automation.
The algorithms defined there ensure that a set supply power and a maximum connected load are not exceeded by switching off loads or limiting the power consumption. In addition to prioritising the sequence in which consumption points are switched off, load management also enables energy generators (e.g. a block-type thermal power station) to be switched on. The switching frequency, blocking periods for switching off, etc. can be set individually for each consumption point or energy generator. All the above measures are aimed at keeping the cost of the service to be paid low.
In addition to costs, carbon emissions reduction also plays an important role in saving energy, as this has an influence on the approval of subsidies. For many companies, a "green footprint" is not only a question of costs but also of image, and thus an important competitive advantage. In contrast to the peak load management described above, which is intended to limit power consumption, demand-side management (DSM) is a further building block for improved flexibility in electrical energy supply.
The increasing share of regenerative energy from wind energy and photovoltaic plants is causing increasing volatility in the supply of electrical energy. The electricity grid was originally designed so that there would be central power plants (energy sources) and these would supply the energy consumers (consumption points) with electrical energy. Due to the large number of decentralised power plants that cannot be used as a constant power source and cannot be connected at short notice, this grid structure is subject to requirements for which it was not originally designed.
The 50 Hz mains frequency to be maintained is a major challenge. Since the correct mains frequency is of great importance for the stability of the mains and for many technical installations, it is essential that it be maintained with only very slight deviations. Further opportunities must therefore be developed to meet these challenges. DSM is a possible component here.
Looking at this situation from a different perspective, it will in the future be possible to adapt electrical energy consumption points to the available electricity supply. The load will then be regulated according to the electricity supply. Today, DSM is hardly known in industry and commerce. There are many reasons for this, but it is primarily due to technical, economic and regulatory hurdles. Technical hurdles exist when it comes to designing technical procedures and processes flexibly. Not every process is flexible. Data must therefore be collected, and reliable measurements are essential.
So companies wishing to exploit the potential need to carry out numerous studies to determine how they can best achieve their goals.
The first prerequisite is that companies must be informed about the possibilities. Entrepreneurs generally exhibit interest when a business benefit can be clearly identified. This is exactly where TQ Automation's solution comes in. It enables the control of consumption points on a completely new level.
DSM can and will become an important component in a flexible energy supply. However, the current challenges are still enormous and require the active participation of energy suppliers, grid operators, product manufacturers and many other stakeholders. And there are also major hurdles ahead in terms of power supply when it comes to e-mobility. TQ Automation is already working on a solution for the intelligent control of loading devices with integrated blackout protection. This will make it possible to implement a controlled power supply and ensure smooth charging, even with a large number of charging devices, by means of parameterisation and automation.