Energy Management: Detail in the data
For 10 years, Pete Tickler, head of digital innovation at ERM Power, has focused on the intersection between data and energy. Speaking at Total Facilities on data and demand management, he says the devil is in the detail – you just need to open your eyes.
Data is playing an increasingly crucial role in energy management.
And the reality is that buildings are now interacting with the energy market in more complex ways than ever before. The Australian energy landscape is undergoing huge disruption and for anyone owning or managing property, this presents plenty of challenges and a fair few opportunities.
For facility managers, this new landscape can be tricky to navigate. FMs must respond to these greater demands, not only understanding the way their buildings consume energy but also how they perform within the broader ecosystem of the grid.
Power in the data
According to Pete Tickler, head of digital innovation at ERM Power, the power is all in the data.
“There is great value in energy data. Data science allows us to identify energy productivity opportunities more quickly and cost-effectively than we’ve seen in the past, and to bring a more empirical approach to a space that hasn’t always made the most of the data that’s available,” he says.
A commitment to ‘data first’ energy productivity allows ERM Power to seamlessly measure current performance, assess the most effective energy productivity opportunities, develop a mature and realistic business case and provide the means to track ongoing improvements over time. Whilst that process might sound obvious, Tickler says it’s consistently lacking in many business’ approach to energy management.
“For us, it’s all about ‘think carefully, plan properly’”. By looking out for what’s on the horizon, and using data to provide quantitative, objective analysis, you can stay ahead of the game.”
But this can be especially challenging for FMs who have many competing demands on their time and may not even know where to find the right information, let alone distill complex energy data sets.
According to Tickler, utilising the data successfully will prove immensely powerful in the face of two of the world’s rising infrastructure innovations: increasing renewable generation, battery storage and electric vehicles (EV).
How these developments are playing out
Countries are learning to meet the challenges of these developments, and we’re already seeing these play out in Australia, thanks in part to Tesla’s battery project in South Australia. Most car manufacturers are committed to EV, and FMs will need to work out what this will mean for their buildings into the future.
“This is a real infrastructure challenge,” he says. “If people have an expectation of charging their EV in your building then that might lead to increases in electricity demand of 50 per cent or more from where you are today. We’re not there yet but there’s no doubt it’ll be a challenge to address within the next decade.”
Focus points for FM
Another industry shift set to disrupt the industry will be the adoption of batteries within commercial buildings.
“Batteries are very trendy right now.” Tickler says. “Commercial property owners will be trying to work out where batteries fit, but there’s still a lot of uncertainty from battery costs to chemistries to building codes.”
His best piece of advice for FMs is to focus on what you can control and keep educating yourself about the changes that are coming.
Furthermore, whilst the technology continues to develop, and we’re seeing new waves of solutions disrupt the market, we continue to see policy uncertainty at state and federal levels.
“Australia is the global lab rat and the rest of the world is watching us,” he laughs.
Right now, the energy sector globally is experiencing huge shifts. And the best way forward is to go to the numbers, and then think ahead.