02/02/2015 - 10:37

Ecocentric aims to cut power costs

02/02/2015 - 10:37

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A Bentley-based energy consulting firm that purports to save between 10 and 26 per cent on electricity bills is getting more work in the UK and Europe than Australia because those countries have regulations mandating big business carry out energy audits.

Ecocentric aims to cut power costs
QUEST: Paul Lyons is working with CSIRO to help businesses use energy more efficiently. Photo: Attila Csaszar

A Bentley-based energy consulting firm that purports to save between 10 and 26 per cent on electricity bills is getting more work in the UK and Europe than Australia because those countries have regulations mandating big business carry out energy audits.

Ecocentric Energy managing director Paul Lyons, who worked on ‘extreme efficiency’ energy saving systems for F1 teams while in the UK, said while Western Australia would remain his home, the business he established here in 2010 could not ignore better opportunities offshore.

While reluctant to politicise the discussion, Mr Lyons said a lack of robust energy efficiency regulations in Australia meant even though businesses could save money by measuring and improving energy use, many failed to follow through due to a lack of government incentives.

First in Mr Lyons’ arsenal of cost-saving measures for businesses are voltage optimisers, which he insists should be installed before commonly touted approaches such as switching to LED lights or adding solar panels.

Because energy is often distributed through the grid at voltages higher than the optimal rate of 220 – to ensure voltage drop over long distances doesn’t result in insufficient power being received – many businesses receive excess power that is usually wasted as heat.

Voltage optimisers, as used at Perth Airport and about 60 locations across Australia, work by controlling the incoming voltage so only the optimal voltage is received and the excess is sent back to the grid, ensuring businesses only pay for what they’re actually using.

Mr Lyons said the devices he’s seen cut electricity costs between 10 and 26 per cent (average 12 per cent) and were one of five tools businesses should consider when aiming to cut energy costs.

Second on the list is more obvious; turning appliances off when not in use.

The next step is to replace older, inefficient equipment.

Fourthly, Mr Lyons recommends changing lighting, while his final tool is local power generation, such as adding renewables or getting paid to reduce supply through demand-side management schemes.

Mr Lyons said Ecocentric didn’t offer advice on ‘passive’ energy solutions such as insulation, tinting windows or planting trees for shade, as businesses already knew about those techniques.

To accurately calculate how much energy businesses are using, Mr Lyons created a diagnosis tool called NRGi, on which he is now working with CSIRO to pair it with its patented technology called cognitive metering.

“In short we’re now able to not only measure energy on an electrical cable, we can tell you what’s on the end of the electric cable, so we’ll actually tell you if it’s a kettle or toaster. It will read the digital signature of any device,” Mr Lyons said.

The benefit he said is companies can accurately identify everything in a business that’s drawing power and see where savings can be made.

Mr Lyons said while NRGi was currently costing Ecocentric a lot to develop, its potential was exciting.

“It’s a bit of a leap forward in many ways, I don’t think we fully realise the applications of it yet,” he said.

 

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