THE MOST TECHNOLOGICALLY ADVANCED ENERGY? THE ENERGY THAT
WE DON’T USE!                                                                                             
                                                                                                                       
By Francisco Silverio Marques    

With the ongoing fast-paced development of the region, the demand for energy continues to grow at a rapid rate, highlighting the ongoing need for more dynamic energy management strategies. To meet the changing dynamics of how we consume energy, there must be a transition towards sustainability which combines smartness, flexibility and environmental performance, while engaging with the end-users. This shift has led to larger quantities of renewable energy technologies, such as solar cells and wind power, being deployed globally to try and address the need to reduce our demand on fossildominated energy supplies. Solar and wind energy are becoming more accessible by the day, as technological advances reduce their lifecycle environmental impact and operation costs. Yet, these renewable energy sources get their full power when they are leveraged by a highly advanced and sustainable fuel: building energy efficiency.

The key approach when talking about sustainable energy consumption is first reduce then replace. The most sustainable energy is the energy we do not use: it does not pollute or consume finite resources, there are no CO2 emissions. However, achieving and sustaining significant energy savings over the long term requires an advanced and innovative approach, involving technology, financial models, and end-user engagement. Typically, Energy Performance Contracts (EPC) deliver substantial results, provided that they are properly implemented. Since the principle of these contracts is that the necessary investment is paid through the savings, it is important that they are based on an accurate audit of the building, so the right energy conservation measures (ECMs) can be properly identified, and a robust financial model can be built. The second step is the proper implementation of the ECMs, through supervision of the works and performance-based commissioning. The third step is then to operate and maintain the equipment over the long term, and closely monitor the energy consumption, so as to be able to quickly react to any changes, immediately bringing the consumption back on track if and when a drift is detected.

ECMs can be of a very wide range of categories, from light replacement to network balancing, from façade insulation to chiller replacement to name but a few. Some have immediate pay-back some are only viable on the longer term. However, at each of the three steps of the project, audit, implementation, and operation/monitoring, innovative technologies allow Energy Services Companies (ESCOs) to more accurately identify, select, implement, maintain and monitor the ECMs. Namely, easier access to sensors, communicating meters, and development of data science have significantly reduced the uncertainty of energy performance projects, allowing bolder business models, and therefore providing higher savings. Sustainable energy savings are therefore an advanced renewable energy.

This is a fact that has been clearly recognized and is demonstrated through the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy’s ambitious target to significantly reduce energy and water consumption by 30% by 2030. The UAE now has more EPC in place than ever before, but whilst there has been significant progress made by the industry to date, there is more to be done across the wider region if we are to deliver against both global and local energy efficiency targets. Enova has successfully implemented EPCs for a wide range of clients across multiple sectors, and we now manage more than 6,000 data points providing real-time energy and water data to our Energy Saving Center. We are also presently completing, with Etihad ESCO, the implementation of the largest energy retrofit project in the Middle East, which will bring 30% guaranteed energy savings for JAFZA labor accommodation over the next 6 years - this translates to 132mAED in guaranteed savings across the 157 buildings for 42,000 end users.

With global investment in the energy efficiency of buildings expected to grow by over a third in the next three years to approximately $125billion, energy performance programmes are no longer ‘a nice to have’ and are becoming an integral part of business strategies for companies in the UAE and wider region. This transition shows the power of energy savings as advanced and sustainable energy.

(The author, Francisco Silverio Marques is the Director Business Development & Marketing, Enova by Veolia, Leader in energy and multitechnical services)

 
 
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