In a country where a third of the population can suffer from power cuts lasting several hours, this innovative Indian start-up is addressing the need for demand-side energy management.
Working with the likes of Coca Cola and Tata, Ecolibrium Energy has come up with a big data energy analytics platform, SmartSense, which is helping more than 750 commercial and industrial consumers and utilities in South Asia to save up to 15% of their energy and asset maintenance costs.
Ecolibrium Energy’s business intelligence technology demonstrates how the power of big data can make a significant difference when it comes to optimising energy use. With Ecolibrium Energy’s technology, which can be applied across many different operations, large businesses – including blue chip clients - can understand, control and massively reduce their energy costs.
2017 Ashden Judging Panel
India’s energy use has been increasing rapidly as a result of economic growth in the last decade. Demand for energy has increased at an even higher rate because of growth in energy intensive sectors. Industry and commerce account for about 40% (* Source: CEA, India) of the total energy demand. With a strong dependence on fossil fuels, this has resulted in a high environmental impact in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition, the high growth in demand has meant that the electricity industry has not been able to keep up with the demand and there are frequent black-outs affecting large portions of the population and negatively impacting on business. India also lacks sufficient domestic energy resources to meet its demand and about 30% of India’s total energy needs are met through imports. Therefore, there is a clear need for demand side management to reduce environmental impact, decrease blackouts and to minimise energy imports.
Ecolibrium Energy’s central product is SmartSense, a cloud-based software platform, which provides clients with analytical and business intelligence tools. These enable them to see what’s going on in their buildings and businesses and gives them easy-to-read data to make the changes that will save energy and money on bills and reduce asset downtime. The software provides analytics packages using advanced machine learning algorithms that help Industry and Building Managers with actionable insights on how to manage their equipment, how to fix inefficiencies and how to identify leakages. It checks consumption patterns against different tariffs and helps users to move to predictive, rather than preventative, maintenance. It can also be used for control. SmartSense can be installed on individual pieces of equipment or in whole buildings and is easily retrofitted.
Data from existing building- or process management systems can be integrated into SmartSense. For example, SmartSense integrates with existing SCADA/ PLC/ ERP systems to measure live production parameters (e.g. number of bottles produced) from production assembly lines and maintenance schedules.
Ecolibrium Energy’s energy monitoring and analytics services are applied to a wide range of businesses, buildings and industrial processes across India. Their customers are split between industry, including automobile, pharmaceutical, iron and steel and food and beverage companies, and commercial customers such as IT parks. They include a number of large international brands such as Coca Cola, Pepsico, Yamaha and Tata.
The business model originated as a licence sales model (of SmartSense) but is now changing to a ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS) model whereby software is licensed on subscription and hosted via a central web based platform. SmartSense combines the power of the industrial internet of things (IOT), deep domain expertise, and big data analytics. All aspects of the technology, including its main communication engine, Link+, are managed in-house, including research and development, installation and monitoring. However, some of the system parts such as meters and wires are outsourced and off-the-shelf wireless sensors are used for monitoring.
Following a site survey for each client, data monitoring points are identified for a demonstration period of between one to three months. A user interface (a screen which enables the user to interpret the data) is created and secure access is given to clients, who also receive summaries via email. The company customises the interface for each client and data is backed up for two years. As the SmartSense platform is designed to be very simple, not much training is required, although during the interactive demonstration phase the client’s staff are trained in the platform usage and data interpretation.
Once staff are used to the software, and data on energy consumption, patterns and leakages are determined, clients choose which bundle of services or analytics package (and parameters) they would like to use. They can decide to add more points for monitoring if needed and are able to select up to 461 parameters, which are not restricted to energy (e.g. temperature, oxygen, current, power factor, voltage, etc.).
The service can be used by the client as long as required and a support service is provided via web/email and in person if needed. Until now, clients have paid monthly per monitoring point and for analytics with the price depending on the complexity of analysis needed. However, as a service, Ecolibrium Energy will charge an annual subscription instead.
Impax Ashden Award for Energy Innovation
Ecolibrium Energy is currently working with over 780 customers, handling data associated with 1.6 GW average energy demand, and has identified significant energy and cost savings. Customers are using SmartSense to effectively track and optimise energy usage and are integrating the data as a management tool for quality control and cost savings. For example, power usage forecasts can now be more accurate so avoiding potential fines from electricity companies. Machines not working, or working sub-optimally, are quickly identified and fixed. To date, customer satisfaction is high. Energy cost savings of up to 15% have been identified. Using an average efficiency improvement of 10%, there has been an energy reduction of 1.4 million MWh per year.
Ecolibrium Energy is clearly the market leader in monitoring energy for industries in India.
Kunal Upadhyay, CEO, Infuse Ventures
Within the next five years Ecolibrium Energy would like to grow its customer base to 2500 clients and to expand internationally.