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April - 2009 - issue > Entrepreneur

Energy Internet

Gunjan Sinha
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Gunjan Sinha
A lot of venture activities are emerging in green and renewable energy fields, with the advent of solar, wind, and the biofuel alternatives of conventional energy sources. It is often a challenge for us, the IT entrepreneurs, to figure out the possible areas to explore within this new wave of future. A lot of venture capital money and corporate funding is chasing the ideas within this emerging area of innovation. Many entrepreneurs and corporate executives are trying to figure out how to play effectively in this domain, by leveraging their own expertise within the world of IT, Internet, and software. I share with you my own thoughts on this very important domain of next generation energy management here. I envision a new class of business infrastructure in the future, which essentially builds an ‘energy-Internet’ within the enterprise, helping organizations build an IT infrastructure, helping them to drive a collaborative environment with utilities, grids, regulators, and alternative energy sources, allowing them to reduce and regulate their overall carbon footprint, costs, and thereby creating more sustainable enterprises.

Enterprise Energy Management

Most energy management systems today are focused only on the operation of the building. This includes functions such as demand limiting, scheduling, and system optimization. I foresee that buildings of the future will evolve into more ‘Intelligent’ data sources, connecting themselves as data points on this energy-Internet, allowing enterprises to take things one step further by incorporating real-time utility rate information and making energy management decisions not just for a single building but for groups of buildings. Enterprise buildings and utilities are going to collaborate through an ‘energy-Internet’ architecture, with the goal of dynamically optimizing the energy usage in real-time. By managing energy in concert with the utility, there is the ability not only to reduce energy consumption but more importantly, to dramatically decrease energy expenditure, and reduce overall green house gas and carbon emissions.

Today, buildings are the largest single consumers of energy in North America, accounting for almost 40 percent of the total energy usage, and this is fairly evenly split between the residential and commercial buildings. Many of these buildings are not designed to meet the latest standards in energy efficiency and thus result in significant wastage of electricity. Some common examples of wastage are: lights left on when there are no occupants, heating kept on when the temperature is high, or cooling switched on when temperature is low. However, today, suitable technology exists to make these buildings ‘intelligent’. The buildings of the future will optimize for energy efficiency without impairing the building’s functionality for its occupants.

Intelligent Demand Response

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