AI technology drives savings for large energy users in retail sector
Partnership with ESB’s Smart Energy Services delivers significant energy and cost savings for Tesco Ireland
ESB has collaborated with IBM Research on a study which involved an analysis of refrigeration in Tesco Ireland stores using AI and IoT, to show the energy savings which could be made by making adjustments or investments to their energy estate. Photograph: iStock
ESB’s Smart Energy Services has used the latest artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), and big data analytics technologies along with a range of bespoke energy solutions to cut Tesco Ireland’s total annual energy bills by 25 per cent.
The savings on refrigeration alone totalled 10Gwh, which equates to the same power required to provide 1,115 homes with electricity for a full year.
These highly impressive savings have been achieved as a result of an innovative proof of concept study carried out by ESB's Smart Energy Services, in conjunction with IBM Research-Ireland. The research study focused on the high energy consumption of refrigeration units in the retail sector, using IoT and AI-based analytics to identify and validate the savings potential for large energy users.
ESB's Smart Energy Services helps businesses achieve savings on their energy costs. The team provides capital funding, energy management services and implementation of energy projects for businesses who are large users of energy and aims to deliver €150 million in energy savings to industrial and commercial customers in Ireland and the UK by 2020.
The analysis of customer energy usage data is seen as the first step to identifying the solutions which will deliver these energy savings along with consequent reductions in carbon emissions. The evidence provided in the study enabled ESB to conduct a series of energy-saving projects for Tesco Ireland which delivered annualised savings of 10 per cent on their refrigeration costs. This represented a five per cent saving in overall energy usage.
Through this study with Tesco we’ve seen how large financial and carbon emission savings can be identified through IoT and AI based energy data analytics
This is part of a wider engagement between ESB's Smart Energy Services and Tesco Ireland. For the last three years, ESB has worked with the company across 151 stores nationally to deliver 25 per cent savings in cost and emissions through a range of energy management initiatives. Data insights have played a major role in the achievement of these savings.
The ESB and IBM Research study involved an analysis of refrigeration in Tesco Ireland stores using AI and IoT to show the energy savings which could be made by making adjustments or investments to their energy estate.
With energy being one of the most significant costs faced by businesses, it makes sense for them to closely monitor their energy usage
The project demonstrated the capability and value of combining large swathes of data from existing metering sources with additional data coming from IoT sensors and other meter sources and sending it to cloud-based analytics services which show where opportunities lie to drive energy savings.
Among the specific areas explored in the project were the identification of opportunities to upgrade equipment to reduce energy usage through anomaly detection studies and the use of analytics to optimise condenser and heat exchanger operation. In addition, AI was utilised to predict when equipment would require maintenance or indeed when it was likely to fail.
This use of AI and analytics is becoming ever more critical in identifying potential energy savings and designing solutions for large energy users like Tesco Ireland, according to Michael Mahon, head of ESB’s Smart Energy Services.
“With energy being one of the most significant costs faced by businesses, it makes sense for them to closely monitor their energy usage,” he says. “Through this study with Tesco we’ve seen how large financial and carbon emission savings can be identified through IoT and AI based energy data analytics highlighting changes which can be made on-the-spot and identifying longer term projects which can deliver even bigger savings.”
Speed of response was a critically important aspect of the project. The cloud-based analysis of refrigeration in Tesco Ireland allowed seamless data flow from sensor to cloud within one week of acquisition of the data, thus allowing for rapid response to anomalies and other issues as well as demonstrating the scalability of the IBM cloud platform and analytics services.
“This collaborative project with ESB to identify opportunities for energy savings across Tesco Ireland's retail outlets demonstrates how companies can unlock substantial energy savings using machine learning and IoT data with the help of AI on IBM's cloud platform,” says Dr Wendy Bellumoni, director IBM Research - Ireland. “It shows how AI and cloud are enabling ESB to lead the way in energy management while helping their customers create operational efficiencies, reduce energy consumption, and effectively optimise financial performance.”
Speaking about the success of this partnership, Geoff Byrne, chief operating officer, Tesco Ireland adds: “Being a sustainable business is very important to us, we are working with our customers, suppliers and partners to create a greener environment. We believe every little help makes a big difference, in recent years we have focused on implementing a wide range of energy efficiency and energy management measures across our 151 stores and distribution centres. Our partnership with the Smart Energy Services division of ESB has been vital in helping us identify and deliver energy efficiency projects ranging from our refrigeration units to high efficiency LED lighting upgrades, as well as heating and ventilation upgrades.”
To find out more, visit esb.ie/smartenergy