The new era of energy management for hospitals: How to reduce your OpEx while achieving sustainability
The buildings where we live, work and entertain absorb more than 42% of the world’s energy consumption due to heating, cooling and lighting systems. Over the next 25 years, worldwide energy demand is expected to grow by over 40%, calling out an urgent need for energy efficiency and sustainability.
Hospitals are no exception to this rule, and yet many still lack an effective strategy to manage their energy consumption and keep costs under control. To compete effectively, hospitals must adopt revolutionary plans to manage and optimise their operational performance, utilising cutting-edge digital technologies and leveraging the power of the Internet of Things (IoT).
Measuring and monitoring electrical systems
Often, organisations do not have control over their energy consumption, nor an accurate methodology to inform them on how their site or building is operating. To reap the full benefits of digitalisation, hospitals must understand how much energy is being consumed, but also how it is consumed.
Thus, the first and most important step is to identify a baseline for the behavior of the electrical system. Metering provides energy managers and operators reliable information, real-time or aggregated, on energy usage. Most often, an energy data and analysis backbone coupled with a robust plant-energy model will reveal patterns of energy waste that would be impossible to see otherwise. Improvements based on metering have been shown to reduce energy consumption by as much as 45%.
But benchmarking cannot be accurate without constancy: continuous monitoring is necessary in order to tell if a sample represents a good or poor status. Such an approach is also the base for energy-efficiency processes and strategies in production environments.
For example, Energy Performance Indicators (EnPI) used mostly to acquire certifications, or as a base for energy audits, provide the highest potential to identify paths and the effects of interventions — but only if they are continuous and structured.
In numbers, let’s assume that a 5% energy efficiency improvement — quite easy to achieve with a metering system installed — can reduce electricity consumption by approximately 5%.
Let’s assume as well that the organization’s industrial production site (which includes a solar rooftop) incurs an average energy cost of $1.2 million per year. By measuring and monitoring the electrical distribution system, the organisation can save thousands, if not hundreds of thousands annually. In our hypothetical example, the cost savings on the energy bill amount to $60,000 per year.
Seizing the future of energy management
Energy’s future will embrace new value chains interconnected by digital technologies with continuous, multi-directional data flow. All stakeholders will add their own value to the system, ensuring a higher overall efficiency at all levels, from production to the final consumer.
Simple or complex energy management systems will play a pivotal role in this changing ecosystem, promising to generate huge ROI through improved efficiency, yield and asset availability.
Digital transformation will also include artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies. These advanced technologies are being developed to help commercial and industrial buildings predict unplanned behaviors related not only to energy consumption, but also power quality and asset reliability, leading to even greater energy efficiency. The most advanced applications will include industry-specific solutions, which will offer the possibility of adopting future technology.
For most hospitals, a substantial shift in thinking, along with changes to their existing energy infrastructure, will be required in order to capitalise on next-generation digital technologies. The time for that change is now.
After all, organisations have a social responsibility to become more efficient, greener and more sustainable. As demand for energy grows, it is undeniable that integrated energy management is a fundamental component of that future.
To learn more about ABB and its comprehensive portfolio of energy management solutions for hospitals and healthcare, visit the ABB Electrify Australia website.
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