Although signs from the upcoming presidential administration in the United States point to a fossil-fuel friendly strategy, investing titans are making moves to divest from fossil fuels going forward. 5.2 Trillion dollars have been divested or will be divested, according to a Divest.org report. Most of the offloading of fossil-fuels come in Europe, where there is strong commitment to the Paris Accords that went into effect this year.
The tech industry is investing heavily in strategies to fund clean energy also, as evidenced by the Bill Gates led effort to put $170 billion toward clean and renewable energy innovation.
This comes at a time when OPEC has promised to reduce production, and when the United States still has stockpiles that can be extracted through Fracking of shale deposits of oil and natural gas.
2017 may be the beginning of a new energy boom as both fossil fuel and renewable energy companies compete to find a place in the infrastructure of increasingly more efficient homes and buildings.
What the Energy Investment Means for Automation
Energy is not yet cheap or free of an environmental impact. For this reason, buildings, homes, schools, and equipment are following a trajectory of increasing energy efficiency. This means that we can expect to see more HMI/SCADA applications with energy monitoring capabilities. Machines will likely be fitted with OEE systems to better track their efficiency, pipelines will be monitored for reliability, and processes will aim to reduce waste.
For the building automation industry the focus on energy monitoring and efficiency may offer rapid growth. There are many incentives and motivations driving the push toward sustainable buildings.
Modern facilities often include large energy and carbon footprints if those expenditures are not offset through additional energy generation methods such as solar and wind power. When designing no, or low-impact sustainable buildings, many of the necessary changes can be made through automation, or even software alone.
For example, it’s estimated that a 10-30% energy reduction can be accomplished solely by scheduling in a SCADA software, like InduSoft Web Studio. If the automated system is capable of using lights, air conditioning, or heat only in the part of the building or during the hours when it is in use, it’s possible to greatly reduce energy costs.
In addition, automation can allow facility managers to capture information on how and where energy is being used, which will allow for the development of solar, hydro, or wind systems to offset the energy needs of the building and meter out that power generation to sell back to the grid or use for the needs of the facility.
Much of the gains in sustainable building automation can be achieved with a combination of existing equipment and powerful SCADA software like InduSoft Web Studio.