Revolution in kilowatts
Since at the end of the 19th century the light reached the streets of some Spanish cities until now, in 2021, in the heat of the cold wave caused by the storm Filomena, the historical record of electricity consumption was reached, in force since 2007, they have passed practically 140 years and electricity has become, by far, the main source of energy for Spanish homes.
However, the country is not exactly efficient when it comes to electricity. “Spain has a deficit in terms of electricity generation, so we are forced to import this energy. In this sense, any savings are of the utmost importance; not only for economic purposes, but also as a national strategy”, explains Míriam Dias , responsible for Efitecture, an expert company in energy efficiency. On the table is the institutional commitment to lead the sector towards an ecological transition with fewer emissions, lower costs and a greater presence of renewables.
Efficient electricity means a reduction in the power demanded from the system without this restriction affecting daily activities, whether in an industry or a home. “In the first place, it implies the reduction of electricity consumption and consequently the reduction of the bill. Secondly, the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions is achieved, with which we face climate change. In addition, we will promote the optimization of manufacturing processes and services, by preventing electrical breakdowns. And finally, the adequate digitization and management of energy consumption allow adequate strategic decision-making at all levels “, summarizes Dias.
In the search for electrical efficiency, technology plays a fundamental role. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, the digitization of the sector could save up to 1.2 trillion euros worldwide. This transformation has to go from energy generation to distribution and even to the final consumer “In the field of distribution, our main ally to improve energy efficiency is the digitization of our network”, explains Eva Mancera, director of i-DE of the Iberdrola group. “Investments in this digitization, the analysis of the big data for fraud detection and an asset renewal program aimed at reducing technical losses has allowed the company to reduce its level of losses by up to 6.5% “, he concludes. By avoiding these losses in distribution, the efficiency of the network multiplies.
Networks and counters
It seems unquestionable that technology is a fundamental pillar on which energetic efficiency is built. “Hardware based on the latest electronic developments and software with state-of-the-art digital applications allow the application of the three stages that define the vision of Energy 4.0: data mining in the cloud, the intelligent and automatic analysis of the same and the actions that will derive in the improvement of the account of results of the client, like consumer of the electricity “, sentence Dias. This would translate, for example, in being able to use the big data to improve forecasting models for energy demand.
At the moment, one of the most obvious steps in which this commitment to technology to promote efficiency is perceived is smart grids, infrastructures in which digitization allows the electricity supply to be managed in a more reliable, sustainable and secure way. Its most visible and well-known face are smart meters. These devices were promoted by a 2009 European directive to allow the active participation of consumers in the electricity market, involving them in the energy transition and enabling savings with personalized offers. According to a report from the National Markets and Competition Commission (CNMC) of June 2019, more than 99% of the accountants in Spain were intelligent, about 28 million.
“With smart meters, customers and distribution companies have information that allows them to improve efficiency. Customers can access hourly readings to see their consumption in previous days and also see in real time what power they are consuming. With the information from the smart meters deployed, the distribution company can immediately detect the existence of breakdowns and correct inadequate voltage levels, which reduces losses and lengthens the life of the assets, “says Mancera.
The bet for home automation
Although if there is a field in which information, digitization and the latest advances converge in favor of efficiency, that is that of home automation. “It is about being able to measure these consumptions and then identify where they come from and be able to use corrective actions”, points out David Alvira, commercial manager of ID Domotica, at the same time that he warns: it means you are going to save. ” It is, again, about offering information and making the consumer an active part towards an ecological and efficient transition.
Nowadays, it is easy to have thermostats, switches or smart bulbs that facilitate savings, although the advance of big data, the internet of things and artificial intelligence predict a much more automated and, they say, more efficient future. “The processes tend to automate more and more until the house can actually operate practically on its own, with more and more intuitive control”, explains Alvira. This, which in principle could make us remember the worst chapters of the Black Mirror series, is summarized for example in that the air conditioning of the house is self-regulating taking factors such as the number of people in the room, the weather and the weather forecast or electricity rates promoting savings and efficiency.