Can energy efficiency companies such as Delta Electronics ride on their smart innovations to win over the burgeoning energy efficiency market?
Motaz Al Ma’ani is a very busy man these days. As the general manager for Delta Electronics, overseeing the Middle East and Africa region, the weight of meeting market expectations in his area of jurisdiction falls squarely on his shoulders.
But lately, Al Ma’ani’s workload has ominously grown heavier as regional utilities and the general public increasingly seek solutions to drive down operational costs through significant energy costs reduction
When UME caught up with him in February at the Middle East Electricity Exhibition (MEE) at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), a crowd had formed around him at the Delta Electronics booth, with curious visitors taking turns to make inquiries about the company’s offerings.
“We have been doing the same thing since yesterday. Very many questions,” says Al Ma’ani as he finally gets to sit with UME. “Fortunately we have the answers, and that is why we have the confidence to be here.”
“The biggest attraction to our solutions is the fact that they all guarantee very high levels of energy efficiency across operations. Most of these solutions have been tested with very impressive results.”
Al Ma’ani attributes the growing interest in energy efficiency solutions to the overall need by various sectors, especially regional utilities, to optimise their operations and also cut down on capital and operational expenditure.
“Regional governments are under immense pressure to scale down their expenditure amid erratic oil prices while also pushing for increased optimisation of utilities operations. To achieve this, there will be need for investment in technologies that can guarantee high levels of energy efficiency since energy plays a significant part in overall operational costs,” says Al Ma’ani.
“Our promise as Delta is to save the world. Our message is smarter, greener together. This is translated in each and every product and even in the components that we make. Energy efficiency and power density are in everything that we do,” adds the 43 year old graduate of industrial enginnering.
At MEE 2017, Delta unveiled a new range of smart, green products and solutions that are capable of facilitating significant energy savings in a wide range of industrial and commercial applications. The released solutions can lead to energy efficiencies of up to 98% for telecom power, solar PV inverters and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS).
The company has also released its building management and control system (BMCS), an intelligent platform to enable energy efficiency in buildings, and the Smart Factory and Cloud Solution, for real-time and comprehensive supervision of industrial facilities.
According to analysts, the major trends this year indicate that building owners recognise the financial value of measuring and monitoring building performance, and using that data to guide operational strategies and make smarter investments.
While lighting retrofits remain the most popular CapEx investment, this will see more businesses, both large and small, developing comprehensive resource management strategies to drive cost savings even further. With the changing energy grid, rising water prices, and tighter regulations, these growing trends can give savvy companies a real competitive edge and improve their bottom line.
Indeed, smart building solutions have been on the rise and were a key highlight at the recently concluded Middle East Electricity Exhibition.
“The increasing capabilities of energy management systems (EMS) and internet-connected sensors make smart building technologies an attractive investment for businesses large and small. The ease in which facility owners and operators can capture data about energy consumption and building performance is certainly a major selling point for these solutions,” says Al Ma’ani.
“Beyond that, owners have realised that installing smart building technologies unlocks a host of additional benefits that go far beyond the cost savings of energy efficiency. For example, building owners and facility managers can now collect vital data related to the health of their building, occupant satisfaction, and employee safety.”
Delta has put together building automation solutions in a single platform that enables intelligent, eco-friendly and efficient management of buildings and their respective underlying sub-systems, including HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), lighting, security, power generation among others.
The BMCS solution is compatible to all international communication protocols installed in buildings, such as BACnet, Modbus, EnOcean, LON, M-Bus, KNX, OPC, DALI.
Besides, Delta Electronics is seeing increased adoption of its industrial automation solutions in its markets. The solutions target customers interested in the smart manufacturing concept that allow real-time monitoring and remote control of production facilities with the help of Smart Factory and Cloud Solution.
Critical information from various layers of the production process is retrieved from PLCs and other industrial devices by Delta’s Industrial 3G Cloud Routers DX-2100 series and sent to the DIACloud internet cloud service system to even allow for customer-centric production practices for enhanced productivity.
The growing demand for distributed energy resources, which include on-site generation and storage systems, is an indication that these solutions will continue to play a much larger role in energy management.
On-site generation solutions are essentially smaller-scale power-producing devices, which are designed to provide either electricity or thermal energy at the point of use. Evidence of this expanding market can be seen in the recent solar boom, as the region set numerous records over the past two years.
Recent reports show that the number of solar panel installations last year outstripped the total number from 2014 by 34%. This growth can be attributed to the cheaper cost of solar PV technology, newly available software monitoring tools, and increased access to third party financing.
Al Ma’ani says that Delta’s flagship solutions of solar PV inverters have registered tremendous uptake due to the increased adoption of solar energy in the Middle East and African region.
“We are supporting installations such as the Omburu Solar PV Park, one of the largest PV power plants in Namibia with 4.5MW capacity. Delta’s M88H series PV inverters boast not only superior performance with up to 98.8% conversion efficiency and 80kVA power output but also a highly durable IP65-rated aluminium casing,” explains Al Ma’ani who joined Delta Electronics in 2009 as regional sales manager, MEA.
As the demand for big data explodes, doubling every two years, organisations are struggling to expand datacentres and save energy costs. Increasing IT facility workloads and server densities challenge businesses to reduce energy consumption and manage capacity utilisation to increase their datacentre efficiency.
The major contributors of datacentre electricity consumption comes from power and cooling systems, servers and facilities, and other equipment that support IT loads and datacentre operation. According to datacentre reports, cooling costs account for about 45% of total energy costs and another 15-20% is due to power distribution and conversions losses in the datacentre.
“Today’s datacentre should be built with the ability to reduce cost and run at an optimal capacity. Good monitoring of datacentre energy consumption helps to improve its efficiency.”
The standard measurement of datacentre efficiency is Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) which was introduced by Green Grid in 2007. It represents the ratio of total facility power divided by the IT equipment power.
Al Ma’ani says that his company has developed Delta InfraSuite, which offers high performance and high efficiency power of 98% along with cooling solutions. “It offers modular features for flexibility, greater space utilisation and agility. Our Cooling Solutions also feature high efficiency design. You can adopt the InfraSuite Rowcool series, an in-row modular design, which supports the concept of “pay as you go” and segmented zones according to applications,” he says.
In a recent White Paper titled ‘Innovations and Disruptions in Building Energy Efficiency in the GCC,’ research company Frost & Sullivan highlights a number of technologies and services that will become more relevant as a result of greater adoption of renewable energies and energy efficient policies in the GCC as compared to other regions.
Potential products that are likely to gain traction in the GCC energy efficiency industry are LED lighting, building management systems, district cooling, building insulation, variable frequency drives, energy recovery devices, trigeneration plant systems, solar thermal air conditioning, non-electric chillers, low-emissivity glass, and building integrated photovoltaics. Besides the aforementioned products, the services market such as energy performance contracting is also expected to gain significant opportunities in the GCC.
“With buildings becoming fully integrated and networked using wireless, web-based automation systems, owners seek to maximise the real benefits,” points out Sasidhar Chidanamarri, associate director, energy and environment practice, MENASA, Frost & Sullivan. “Hence, energy management will lead to improvements in operational efficiency, optimisation of energy, and demand management.”
Along with building efficiency is the growth in temporary energy storage solutions. The falling cost of batteries means that business can truly go off the grid. When coupled with an on-site generation solution, the building can shift electricity usage off of the grid when rates are higher, and instead draw from reserve energy stored in an on-site battery or fuel cell.
Over the coming years, the electric utilities will continue struggling to meet the growing demand using existing infrastructure. Because of this, some utility companies are switching to time-sensitive rate structures and charge more for electricity during times of peak demand. For businesses that draw a larger load of electricity during peak hours, on-site storage can provide substantial cost savings.
With its power conversion and energy storage technologies, Delta’s Energy Storage System (ESS) is now offering high-efficiency power conditioning capabilities for demand management, power dispatch and renewable energy smoothing.
“The ESS integrates bi-directional power conditioning and battery devices, site controllers, and a cloud management system to provide comprehensive energy storage for residential, commercial and utility applications,” say Al Ma’ani.
“Our Li-ion battery portfolio covers cells, modules of 24V and 48V, outdoor and indoor cabinets and containers, which offer customers excellent scalability and adaptability to a wide variety of requirements.”
As policies have expanded, so has investment in energy efficiency. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that global investment in energy efficiency was $221bn in 2015, an increase of 6% from 2014. Investment in efficiency was two-thirds greater than investment in conventional power generation in 2015, with the strongest investment seen in the buildings sector, at 9%.
Energy efficiency services are now a sizeable, distinct market sector. In 2015, energy service companies (ESCOs), whose primary business model is delivering energy efficiency solutions, had a total turnover of $24bn.
Evidence indicates that the energy efficiency market will grow in the coming years. Mergers and acquisitions of energy efficiency services firms have been increasing, with utilities, technology providers and energy equipment manufacturers all stepping into the market.
The low energy demand outlook in IEA countries has prompted a number of traditional energy utilities to adopt the provision of energy services as a way to expand their revenues. In addition, growth in remote monitoring, control and data analytics are enabling new business models and service solutions.
Finance for dedicated energy efficiency products and services is also expanding. Since their launch in 2012, the value of “green” bonds has grown to over $40bn in 2015, of which over $8 billion is dedicated to energy efficiency.