Every business owner loves having to pay their electricity bill, right? If the answer is “no,” you’re in good company. Most business owners would rather clean toilets than pay ever more exorbitant electricity bills.
Electricity bills are a big cost for business owners. The good news is improving efficiency can help to reduce this cost and recently the Federal government provided a big incentive to businesses via the Australian Investment Guarantee policy.
Under this policy, businesses can deduct up to 20 percent of their investment in eligible energy efficient assets over $20K. Read more about this new initiative here:
From installing LED lighting to upgrading heating and cooling systems, businesses can implement a range of strategies to lower their energy footprint and at the same time improve property value and reduce operating costs.
Other solutions include building sealing/insulation, voltage regulation, power factor correction, improving the quality of supply and energy generation such as Solar PV.
This does not mean that you need to change some of your expensive assets. However, before acting, you should understand your energy profile to know which energy reduction strategies will best suit your business needs.
First things First, Monitoring to Determine Your Energy Needs
Here’s an energy monitoring strategy that will help you to understand your consumption patterns and explain power factor correction and contribution of PV systems.
Most monitoring systems will give you real-time consumption data and some of them like inavitas Flex will also provide your device consumption data in your system so that you can identify where the bottlenecks are and take effective action.
This monitoring system will also show your active and reactive power data which you will need to understand your power factor.
Why you need this data and what is power factor?
Power factor represents the relationship between real and apparent power.
Real power is used in your system, but apparent power is a combination of real and reactive power. Reactive power is a circulating component between the network and some type loads (motors, converters etc.), and it is not converted directly to a work. However, if your tariff has charges either directly on reactive energy or on peak demand, you will be still paying for not only real power, but also that reactive power. Higher the reactive power is, higher you pay for apparent power and peak demand.
Power factor is between 0 to 1 and a higher value means higher efficiency.
Hence, taking control of your power factor will reduce your electricity bill significantly. Power factor correction equipment, which supplies that circulating reactive power instead of the network, will be a cost-effective measurement. In addition, your equipment’s lifespan will increase as well because you will be regulating your voltage level which is directly related to the equipment lifespan.
There are several types of power factor correction equipment like capacitors, static compensators etc. which all are used mainly for reactive power compensation and voltage regulation. Capacitors are generally good fit in industries because of relatively cheaper installation costs compared to other measures. However, it should be designed and sized properly to avoid the amplification of harmonics (resonance phenomena) generated by disturbing loads such as arc furnaces, welding machines or rectifiers. To avoid this, either harmonic filters or static compensators can be used.
Australia also has huge solar power generation potential and the Queensland Government’s target of 1 million solar rooftops—or 3000 megawatts of installed solar capacity by 2020 means now is a great time to consider solar for your business.
Battery storage systems are also emerging and can be considered at a commercial scale, but it is very important to have a monitoring system which will be able to communicate with equipment like battery storage to give you overall performance and enable you to control your system.
The other option is to use inverters in your system as static compensators, so your first investment on power factor correction equipment will be reduced or even will be eliminated in some cases.
Overall, it is a good to time to increase your system efficiency and there are many options in the industry, but it would be better to understand first what your system needs, and that’s why I recommend you install a monitoring system initially, so you can make an informed decision about your energy efficiency needs.