Energy sobriety will require large investments and the use of AI

Which expenses are the most energy intensive for the household and for the business? At the top of the list we usually find the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (or HVAC, in the jargon) triptych.

Take the case of movie theaters. France has approximately more than 2,000 distributed throughout the territory. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning accounts for 69% of energy use, according to a report released June 8 by the National Center for Motion Picture and Motion Pictures. It is huge. Scale is just as important in many other industries. At a time when energy prices are constantly on the rise (last week the price of electricity in France reached a record level of 495 euros per MWh with a year’s supply), many companies are rushing to reduce their electricity bills.

The imperatives of the energy transition are added to this. Several decrees in recent years have encouraged companies to adopt a path to reduce energy consumption. For example, the “tertiary” decree of 2019 obliges buildings of tertiary use, whose operational area is greater than or equal to 1000 m2, to achieve 40% energy savings by 2030. It’s tomorrow. It is about a large part of the French cinema park. But also other types of activities.

The buzzword of the year

How to save energy? Energetic sobriety is an instant response. In the coming months, you will hear this expression almost every day in the media. It’s about consuming less, consuming differently, as made clear in the government’s energy sobriety plan unveiled on 8 July. Specifically, this involves three types of actions:

Work on the grouping of needs. This includes, for example, working with municipalities and associations to have time slots grouped together for more limited periods so as not to overheat, or even working with third-party companies to increase telecommuting and thus reduce set temperatures on those days ( this is what the Spanish energy efficiency plan presented last May for public administrations provides)

Eco gestures. The possibilities are almost endless: reduce the temperature in buildings by one degree, reduce the opening hours of municipal swimming pools, charge your laptop not during peak hours of the electricity grid, but at night (the performance of the new Apple M1 and M2 chips is extraordinary in terms of consumption), no longer wear a tie, as recommended Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, or even ask your energy supplier for a double off-peak/off-peak tariff to consume sensibly. Sometimes it is necessary to compete between suppliers to achieve this. All this presupposes a previous state information campaign aimed at the general public.

Provide equipment and/or operation to save energy. Several options are possible: installing sensors and connected objects that allow you to adjust the energy of the objects taking into account the periods when no one is there, or even replacing the 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 collective awareness. It is uncertain. On the other hand, some actions can lead to immediate and impressive positive effects, e.g switching which can reduce electricity consumption sometimes up to 80%! These are quick and effective actions. 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 sustainably.

Using AI-based management tools

One possible solution is artificial intelligence (AI). This can lead to the selection of renewable energy sources (such as heat recovery) combined with AI-based management tools. This is what, for example, Dalkia, the French industrial energy transition specialist, offers together with Dalkia Analytics. In Spain, engineering group SENER (a local giant) has revolutionized the energy-intensive segment of HVAC with the help of artificial intelligence technology. Its Respira technology integrates into the upper level of the SCADA system (real-time data acquisition and control system), using all existing infrastructure systems without significant investment (Plug & Play system). This is an important point. Many companies are ready to make efforts in the field of energy transition, but the context is not conducive to expensive immediate investments. An artificial intelligence technological unit is added to this system, which, for example, ensures the minimum level of air quality or automatically determines in real time the degree of comfort of users in the premises. There is no longer any need for human intervention. The predictive maintenance system also allows early detection of any breakdowns. The results are impressive. In the Barcelona metro (128 metro stations, 324 fans, over a million users per day), this reduced average energy consumption by 25.1%, reduced temperatures by an average of 1.3°C and increased user satisfaction by more than 10%. .

If Russia decides to permanently cut off gas supplies to Europe (which is not excluded), we will have to expect electricity rationing this winter (even in some cases blackouts – this is when the electricity that consumers need can no longer be produced by power plants that cannot provide all the necessary power). Energy sobriety is a priority of state policy. Eco-gestures are a short-term solution. However, it is not known that this will prevent rationing. On the other hand, we can now avoid jeopardizing the achievement of consumption reduction targets as part of the energy transition. This involves investing now in new technologies that will significantly reduce consumption in the very long term. Specifically, it’s AI.