Energy sobriety will require huge investments and the use of AI

What are the most energy-intensive household and business expenses? At the top of the list we usually find the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (or HVAC, in jargon) triptych.

Let’s take cinemas for example. In France, there are about 2000 of them, distributed throughout the territory. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning accounts for 69% of energy costs, according to a report from the National Center for Film and the Moving Image released June 8. It’s huge. Scale is just as important in many other industries. At a time when energy prices are constantly rising (last week the price of electricity in France reached a record level of 495 euros per MWh with delivery per year), many companies are rushing to lower their electricity bill.

Added to this are the imperatives of an energy transition. Several decrees passed in recent years have prompted companies to take the path of reducing energy consumption. For example, the 2019 “tertiary” ordinance obliges tertiary buildings with a floor space greater than or equal to 1,000 m2 to achieve 40 percent energy savings by 2030. It’s tomorrow. Most of the French film park is affected. But also other activities.

buzzword of the year

How to save energy? Energy sobriety is the immediate answer. In the coming months, you will hear this expression almost daily in the media. It’s about consuming less, consuming differently, as clearly stated in the government’s energy sobriety plan unveiled on July 8th. Specifically, this includes three types of actions:

Working on grouping needs. This includes, for example, working with municipalities and associations so that they have time slots grouped together for more limited periods so as not to give off heating, or even working with tertiary companies so that teleworking grows and thus lowers set temperatures. these days (this is what the Spanish Energy Efficiency Plan, presented last May for public administrations) envisages

Eco gestures. The possibilities are almost limitless: lowering the temperature in buildings by one degree, reducing the operating time of municipal swimming pools, recharging a laptop not during peak hours from the network, but at night (the performance of the new Apple M1 and M2 chips is simply incredible). in terms of consumption), no longer wear a tie as Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez recommends, or even ask your energy supplier for a peak/off-peak double tariff to consume wisely. Sometimes this requires competing with suppliers. All of this presupposes a preliminary government information campaign aimed at the general public.

Provide equipment and/or work to save energy. Several options are possible: installation of sensors and connected objects that allow you to regulate the energy of objects, taking into account periods when there is no one, or even the choice of lighting, which consists in replacing old lighting with LED lamps. Simple but effective.

The first two types of actions have a real positive impact on energy consumption only if there is a collective awareness. It’s not clear. On the other hand, some actions can lead to immediate and impressive positive consequences, for example, lamp replacement which can reduce power consumption sometimes up to 80%! These are quick and effective steps. They can be implemented today. But it is also necessary to plan registration in the long term in order to reduce consumption even more and more sustainably.

Use of AI-based management tools

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one possible solution. This could lead to the choice of renewable energy sources (such as heat recovery) combined with AI-based management tools. This is what, for example, Dalkia Analytics, a French specialist in the transition to industrial energy, suggests. In Spain, the engineering group SENER (a local giant) has revolutionized the energy-intensive heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) segment with AI-based technology. Its Respira technology integrates into the top layer of a SCADA (Real Time Data Acquisition and Management System) system using all existing infrastructure systems without significant investment (Plug & Play system). This is an important point. Many companies are ready to make energy transition efforts, but the context is not conducive to costly immediate investments. An AI technology unit is added to this system, which, for example, ensures a minimum level of air quality or automatically determines in real time the degree of comfort of users indoors. No more need for human intervention. The preventive maintenance system also allows you to detect any breakdowns in a timely manner. The results are impressive. In the Barcelona metro (128 metro stations, 324 fans, more than a million users per day), this reduced average energy consumption by 25.1%, lowered temperatures by an average of 1.3°C and increased user satisfaction by over 10%. . .

If Russia decides to permanently cut off gas supplies to Europe (which is not excluded), then this winter we will have to wait for energy rationing (even in some cases of power outages – this is when the power required by consumers can no longer be produced by electricity). power plants that cannot provide all the required power). Energy sobriety is a priority of state policy. Eco gestures are a short term solution. However, it is not certain that this will prevent rationing. On the other hand, now we can not jeopardize the goals of reducing consumption as part of the energy transition. This involves investing now in new technologies that will significantly reduce consumption in the very long term. In particular, it is AI.