How IoT solutions turn energy efficiency into a distributed energy resource

FROM: Presentation by James Clements* to the 2019 Smart Energy Conference and Exhibition in Sydney on April 2


The rapidly changing economics of Energy IoT and cloud technology can help enable measurement and verification, at scale, to unlock the value of energy efficiency as a distributed energy resource (DER).

This will make energy efficiency similar to solar generation or demand capacity, opening up a major lower-cost avenue for firm DER to further drive the clean energy transition.

Currently energy efficiency has to stack up on the cost savings behind the meter, even though it delivers benefits across the electricity value chain.

Using IoT technology for Measurement and Verification (M&V) makes sense now, and will be boosted further in a rapidly growing market, which in the next 3 years is expecting a 40% decrease in average sensor cost, 15 times growth in cloud storage capacity and 43% growth in wireless connections.

The good news on this just gets better:

  • The same hardware devices that enable energy efficiency as a DER can also allow stacking of more energy services through the cloud, and
  • This innovation has clear potential to make deemed methods for energy efficiency obsolete, as actual technology-enabled M&V takes over, and replaces estimates with measurement.

At Wattwatchers, we think of DER as a system of loads, generation, storage, energy efficiency and dispatch-able capacity. Currently, in most cases, energy efficiency is missing from the DER mix.

If, however, we can make energy efficiency more like a DER, and measure it in time series – like we do solar generation for example – then we can unlock more value.

Measuring energy efficiency and making it more bankable is good for everyone, and in addition it can be valuable for:

  • Deferral of grid augmentation
  • Evaluation of returns in comparison with other DERs
  • Recognition of supply and demand-side benefits in the energy efficient investment
  • Smoother integration of high levels of renewables/DERs
  • Reduction in requirement for flexible generation
  • Ability to trade energy efficiency in real-time where efficiency can be encouraged, and where it is needed through market pricing.

Reasons that energy efficiency is not already considered as a DER include:

  • Poor data resolution and timeliness – often at ‘best monthly’, and not in real-time
  • Poor transparency across multiple stakeholders
  • Difficulty to lower barriers and to manage compliance

This is why, in business-as-usual mode, energy efficiency has to stack up in behind the meter savings. It means, that while individual companies and homes may make the actual investments in energy efficiency, much of the benefit is shared with the rest of the value chain and cannot be captured by the investors.

If we can work together to redesign M&V methods which leverage the scalability of IoT and software automation, we can deliver more energy efficiency at scale, and understand its value on both the supply and demand sides.

Higher levels of ‘energy intelligence’, which the IoT era allows, will translate beyond energy savings per se to include even higher value areas, such as asset management, improved reliability and enhanced productivity.

Talk to me if you’d like to learn more about Wattwatchers-enabled solutions for Energy IoT –

*James Clements, C&I Specialist and Business Development Manager, Wattwatchers Digital Energy

Experienced new energy solutions advisor, James Clements, joined Wattwatchers Digital Energy in 2017 to focus on expanding deployment in commercial and industrial sub-metering, business energy efficiency, and green and smart building use cases. James’ CV includes stints with Envizi, AGL New Energy, Presync and GE Ecomagination, with over 20 years of experience in technology-rich environments such as aviation, healthcare, resources and clean technology. He has a Masters in Business Administration – from Macquarie University – specialising in Marketing and Finance. His first full-time career role was as an avionics engineer with Qantas.