In many cases, the matter of energy procurement (or of generating one’s own power) is totally separate from the downstream distribution of heat, cooling and electricity. Irrespective of conventional energy management, the prevailing conditions in the energy industry and special circumstances offer sufficient opportunities for further savings if there is holistic transparency about energy input and consumption points.
A prerequisite for the success of a demand-oriented and cost-efficient energy management concept is a preliminary investigation including the preparation of a measuring and counting concept. This anchors the use of essential energy meters while at the same time avoiding an investment in an unnecessarily large number of individual meters.
In the measuring and counting concept, a different approach is required for all aspects of energy supply, energy processing and energy distribution. Energy processing is more about efficiency and transformation into other forms of energy. In the distribution process, the focus is more on the user concept and the subsequent billing.
If the gas feed is used exclusively for heating, processing and evaluation is quite simple. Things get more interesting when natural gas is also used in the kitchen, in production processes or, in the case of older technology, in air conditioning systems. In these cases, separate meters and evaluations in energy management are absolutely necessary for subsequent billing.
And this becomes downright exciting when the gas from BHKWs is used to produce electricity in addition to heat. CHP applications then require transparency about the primary energy used and the heat and electricity generated. The situation is correspondingly more complex if the gas is used either directly for cooling via absorbers or indirectly via CHP heat, in CHP plants, for example.
Similarly to gas, the utilization and accurate allocation of electricity plays a decisive role in the economic efficiency of plant operation. The EEG, for example, contains various special circumstances for preferential treatment. Here we partly differentiate on the basis of what the electricity is used for.
Electricity for individual production processes, but also for useful energies such as heat, cold, etc., can be subsidized. Here, of course, the applicable framework conditions must be observed. And transparent energy management is absolutely essential if one wants to make use of these economic advantages. However, energy managers who have introduced an energy management system for such reasons or other requirements will also confirm that the systems are a useful tool in day-to-day business for efficient plant operation, irrespective of the above-mentioned benefits.
Changes in Germany’s energy landscape are resulting in more and more volatile generation capacities such as wind and solar power plants. Whereas in the past the primary relevant factors for economic operations were consumption quantities and the respective procurement costs, nowadays consumption profiles are becoming increasingly important. Peak load management is not the only way to achieve significant savings. The number of full load hours of the purchased energy quantity and its load profiles also determine the price. By determining the causes of peak loads and controlling their actual demand, businesses can operate their systems more consciously and economically.
Energy managers who can act flexibly not only on the consumption side but can also take advantage of flexibility potentials on the generator side (with BHKWs, diesel generators for emergency power, etc.), can achieve even greater efficiency with the help of options like flexible load management, controlled electricity, etc. For these tasks, energy managers can rely on the support of a suitable energy management system.
In the project planning phase of professional energy (efficiency) projects, the comparison of variants of different systems plays an important role. The energy supply is often a combination of base load technologies (BHKW´s, heat pumps, etc.) and peak load technologies or systems (gas boilers, district heating, etc.). The base load technologies are generally at a disadvantage in terms of their investments, but are often much more economical in operation with a reasonable useful life.
The same also applies on the consumer side. Normal commercial properties usually distinguish between static and dynamic heat and cold. Industrial plants have an even wider range of uses. Here, too, transparency of the respective costs and efficiencies is helpful.
For economically optimized energy management it is absolutely necessary to know the respective production costs and yield potentials. However, the actual (and not the theoretical) (partial load) efficiencies of the respective plants are also decisive here. In addition, the situation may also change over time depending on the evolution of market prices for gas and electricity (“the gap between gas and electricity prices”) and may require a different operating strategy for the installations. Making things even more complex is the increasing importance of load profiles in the context of economic operation. Ultimately, even a very experienced energy manager is dependent on the help of a demand-oriented energy management system.