Replacing Your Cabin Air Filter

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What’s driving energy efficiency improvements at electric utilities?

Author: Renzo Coccioni Schneider Electric Blog

The pressure to improve energy efficiency is constant and intense. The burden is particularly high for electric utilities, since changes to power production and distribution can have a cascading effect that impacts the energy efficiency efforts of both utilities and consumers, who increasingly expect demand-side advancements. In this quest for improvements, it’s easy to lose sight of why you should want more energy efficient operations.

Two energy efficiency operations drivers are top of mind:

  1. Cost and energy savings
  2. Regulatory challenges

The opportunity to cut costs is always a motivator for change, and for utilities, the rewards for reducing network losses are great because annual electricity transmission and distribution (T&D) losses are substantial. They average around 5 percent in the United States and 8.3 percent worldwide, which represents billions of euros in energy that is wasted every year in distribution. Improving T&D efficiency is a big step in reducing that loss.

Regulations are providing a big push for utilities to make improvements. Countries around the world have ambitious energy goals for cutting electricity network losses and enhancing efficiency. Two initiatives that stand out as change drivers are the EU’s Energy Efficiency Directive and the Paris Agreement.

The European Energy Efficiency Directive 2012 is an EU directive that established binding measures to mandate EU energy efficiency improvements, which will help the EU meet its target of 20 percent energy efficiency by 2020. The directive requires EU countries to use energy more efficiently in all phases of the energy supply chain — from production to consumption — and seeks to establish a common framework to promote energy efficiency and eliminate energy market barriers. The directive will be revised and is currently under negotiation as part of the so-called “Winter Package” of energy policy reforms aimed at aiding and expediting the EU’s transition to cleaner energy and reforming the electricity market’s design and operations.

On a global level, in 2016, 195 countries committed to the Paris Agreement, with a goal of undertaking rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and a long-term target of limiting the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

A third, related change driver is facilitating the smoother integration of distributed energy resources (DER) using smart grid technology and an advanced distribution management systems (ADMS), which can minimize technical losses. The use of DER and local production has exploded as utilities and consumers seek more sustainable, efficient energy. Adding DER to the energy mix is a perfect chance to produce and provide cleaner energy as well as add flexibility and security to your system. However, the current distribution networks were not designed to handle this influx of DERs, so utilities are focusing on the infrastructure and technology, such as smart grids and ADMS, that are necessary to successfully integrate alternative energy into the grid.

In the second post of this series, I’ll describe strategies for maximizing grid efficiency to improve operations, save money, and comply with current and upcoming regulations.

For an in-depth look at how you can leverage smart grid tools to meet energy savings obligations as well as strategies and best practices for cutting costs, read “Smart Distribution Utility Strategies that Maximize Grid Efficiency.”

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New Data Center IoT Architecture with Useful Analytics Linked to Digital Services and Automation

Author: Steven Carlini Schneider Electric Blog

Major market and technology trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart “everything” have driven exponential growth in the amount of big data that needs to be captured, stored, analyzed and connected. In fact, experts project that by the year 2020, about 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for every human being on the planet.  As the digital transformation of our society expands, data centers play the critical role of providing the technology backbone that supports our digital lifestyle. In fact, data centers are accommodating these needs by occupying almost two billion square feet of facility floor space across the world.

While this digital transformation has been occurring, expectations of how a data centers provide value have also evolved. Data centers need to operate on a continuous basis with very limited downtime – when they do go down it’s now front-page news.  If something goes wrong, the management system and service tech armed with digital tools are expected resolve the problem quickly and to provide insight into the root cause to help prevent another occurrence.

The shock to the system necessitates adjustments

This need for “high stakes” data center management became more apparent recently when more than one big-name airline experienced data center outages which resulted in subsequent negative customer relations and associated financial consequences.  These incidences demonstrate how the lines between IT and the IT-supported businesses are becoming blurred.

All industries are being affected. One recent article on the future of banking, posed the question “So, what will the bank of the future look like?” and the author answered it with an emphatic and unambiguous, “It will either cease to exist or will become an IT company.”

As a consequence of this new IT availability-driven reality, traditional approaches to managing data centers have begun to outlive their usefulness.  A new, more agile and open model is required. The look and feel of what is now a “hybrid” data center environment involving the cloud, on-premise data centers and edge computing is much different from the typical data center management environment of even five years ago.

The new open architecture model

An important key for managing all three elements of the hybrid data center portfolio is to view the cloud, on-premise, and edge elements as part of a larger whole that is built on an open, multi-layered architecture. When piecing together such an architecture, a holistic view should be taken and development planned in the aggregate, with the application and the physical environment being central considerations.

Fortunately, there’s no need for data center managers to reinvent the wheel by architecting a hybrid data center portfolio from the ground up. Schneider Electric has recently launched EcoStruxure IT, an open, but tailored, stack of connected products, edge control level software, and cloud-based services for supporting applications and data analytics. This common platform aggregates IoT data from information technology (IT) and operations technology (OT) hardware devices into a cloud based data repository.

The EcoStruxure IT architecture helps customers unlock the potential of sensors and data points within the data center to vastly improve performance and availability. By linking to more than 800 customers, over 1,000 data centers, 88,000 devices and more than 2 million sensors, EcoStruxure IT provides predictive insights that generate advance notice before any failures occur. This useful information can also be monitored in real-time by experts in the Schneider Electric service bureau, who can provide explanation of the recommendations and dispatch of service experts as needed.  This dispatch function can also be automated if desired.

To learn more about the agility and efficiency benefits of EcoStruxure IT, take a look this recent press release or watch this video.

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