Cities are very complex environments, Formed by traffic, water and pipes, buildings, wiring, luminous ads, waste disposal and we realise that the city as a whole always depends on energy for each activity, and their amount of consumption is huge, making up 70% of all CO2 emissions.
Automotive and package industry and supermarkets alone are responsible for almost 1/3 of energy consumption in certain cities, while houses and hotels are responsible for another third of all energy cities use to consume, and most of this energy does not come from renewable sources.
What is energy management?
In the age we live in we consume many types of energy, especially electrical energy used for different purposes in homes, businesses, and government organisations.
In these cases, having a form of energy management is a great way to identify where optimisations are needed to avoid wastage and increase the efficiency of energy.
The function of energy management is precisely to monitor, control, conserve and optimise consumption in intelligent, sustainable and economical ways, working with the energy sources we have, generating data and insights to reduce wastage and optimise energy consumption.
Why is energy management important?
We have noticed throughout history that our energy sources have evolved significantly . With this evolution we have noticed many adverse environmental impacts, which end up directly influencing our quality of life.
The truth is that energy sources such as fossil fuels generate a large amount of carbon and sulphur dioxide, very toxic substances both for the human body, causing several respiratory disorders, heart problems and decreasing significantly life expectancy and also very harmful to the ozone layer, which in excess can disrupt the climate, poisoning the air and our water supplies.
The reliance on fossil fuels is also very unsustainable, since it is a limited resource that occasionally will cause a crisis on prices and supply chains.
The largest electricity consumption comes from hydroelectric power plants, which modify the course of rivers, affect local life with fearful accidents, water shortages and uncontrolled local ecosystems.
The risk taken to generate these types of energy is considerable, especially for our future generations. So how can we leave a better world energy-wise for our children?
This is a question that several experts try to answer every day and, besides the search for renewable sources and products that consume less energy, the main way is still energy management. Let’s see how it works below!
How energy management works
We can think of energy management in different elements: inside the home, in urban commercial and office buildings, in industry, in transport and in most of them, the process can be understood in important steps such as:
1. Measuring energy consumption and setting parameters
This first step involves understanding the consumption demand of the environment and collecting information that can be turned into valuable data, which will help measure consumption in different circumstances and improve the efficiency of energy in its entirety.
The more information, the more reliable the indicators will be and the more opportunities for savings can be found.
2. Identify waste and ways to save consumption
With the data in hand, it is necessary to analyse to understand patterns. The system will be able to cross-reference data from different sources to understand if there is any energy overconsumption or damages in the supply wires.
This step will identify wastes and the possibilities for savings and occasional replacements at home.
Therefore, the analysis is very important to enable strategic decisions to be made such as reduced costs whilst simultaneously increasing productivity, with medium-long term investments.
And one way to make this identification of patterns more precisely is from platforms with functional user interfaces, like apps and softwares, that could be checked regularly.
3. Generate long term savings
At this point, different measures can be taken; from a change in energy use habits to unplug unnecessary appliances and replace wiring, equipment, making an investment in renewable sources, such as solar energy, or purchasing electric vehicles.
The key is to increase energy efficiency and remove potential waste by unplugging or changing the way you use appliances. Finding the most efficient ways to adopt energy and adopt cleaner, greener solutions and sources.
4. Measuring the effectiveness of a new tactic
At this point, we return, in a sense, to step two, but to observe closely all the changes implemented to optimise and save energy. Several tests are carried out to verify its efficiency.
Once again, measuring and implementing equipment is fundamental to understand which tactics work, which need to be worked over.
This step is important to test the main projects of energy management and which direction the markets and researches should follow. It is constant feedback from both parties: the consumers and developers.
The smart city and energy management
We have even talked more broadly about energy management, but the focus is on the city as a whole and the way each part of it consumes energy, which could be put to better use in each of the processes mentioned above.
One of the major players in all this dynamic: the Internet of Things (IoT). This concept is fundamental within the new technologies.
The idea is to make the digital interconnection of all the devices used in everyday life, so that they help to promote “Machine Learning”, generating usage data to understand more and more our habits.
Devices connected to the internet are able to learn and adapt to our routines and learn user behaviours, creating information and also learning ways to optimise energy and our own experience.
It is also possible to install sensors and other types of smart devices that can be controlled remotely and are able to communicate with other devices, thus creating a smart environment.
Now imagine this integration in a big city. Think of the power of integrating various devices that measure everything from temperature to average traffic speed, humidity in different regions, average energy consumption and even the level of crowding.
Several densely populated Asian cities have been successfully employing viral protocols to hold the pandemic, with safety checks, risk measures in crowded areas and a follow-up of infection clusters, drastically decreasing the dissemination of viruses.
Imagine how much valuable data these different devices are capable of providing us. This is what we call Big Data – increasingly intelligent ways of collecting, processing and managing [DP1] all this information.
And what does this have to do with the Smart City? Well, the smart city is exactly the environment where all this data is used to increasingly improve people’s lives, reducing waste and optimising speed and satisfaction for everyone.
Many smart city concepts are already practiced on a large scale, and it is easy to check this in the apps we use on our mobile phones on a daily basis, however, the big question is to raise the possibilities to create tactics that affect the quality of public life.
The importance of energy management
For the smart city model to happen and reach all the people, its energy base needs to be managed, that is, energy needs to be monitored, because if it is missing, it can lead to the malfunctioning of all sectors of the city.
Energy is becoming more expensive by the day and the only way to enable a sustainable replacement is to improve its efficiency. That is why the steps we listed above are imperative to investing in renewable energy.
The smart city seeks to automate various processes and jobs that are tiresome for us humans, such as waste disposal , bureaucratic and industrial work.
In this sense, thinking about ways of managing energy is a way to create a new type of market that is concerned with green policies that help us build a new future that is more sustainable, intelligent and humanised.
ZPN Energy is proud to be a part of this journey towards a cleaner, greener future.