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Applying energy efficiency concepts to electrical installations
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Image by Harry Strauss from Pixabay

The IEC defines energy efficiency as the ratio between output performance compared with the input of energy. It consists of the following: using less energy for the same performance, using the same energy for better performance, or improving the conversion of energy into electricity.

Many energy efficient technologies and solutions are readily available. Investments and a commitment towards energy efficiency abound, yet a number of barriers inhibits the deployment of energy efficiency solutions. Lack of awareness of saving potential, a focus on devices rather than systems which leads to a lower return on investment and a preference for lower cost rather than life-cycle gains are some of the barriers that impede harvesting the full potential of energy efficiency.

Standardization can offer solutions to help overcome these barriers by, for example, providing definitions and measurements of performance, disseminating and promoting energy efficiency technologies and establishing minimum energy performance requirements.

The IEC has set up the Advisory Committee on Energy Efficiency (ACEE) to help IEC technical committees adopt energy efficient solutions in their standardisation activity and support energy efficient technologies through their standards. According to ACEE Chair Philippe Vollet, “our first mission is to coordinate activities related to energy efficiency and provide guidance to technical committees”.

As part of this mission, IEC ACEE has developed two guides, Guide 118 and Guide 119, which can be used by IEC technical committees to harmonize energy efficiency standardization and adopt a systems approach. It has also developed a case- study on how international standards can be used to support the energy efficiency market and national energy efficiency policies for low-voltage electrical installations

Low-voltage electrical installations case study

The case study on low-voltage electrical installations is based on IEC 60364-8-1 which gives guidance on the design and assessment of low-voltage electrical installations based on the concepts found in IEC Guide 118.

According to Jacques Peronnet, member of IEC ACEE and Chair of IEC TC 64, “IEC 60364-8-1 provides a method to assess the energy efficiency of an electrical installation based on parameters that influence efficiency. It is relevant for both new and existing buildings and can be used for industrial, commercial and residential premises.”

Boundaries need to be defined in order to understand what will be addressed in the optimization of energy usage. Circuits that are designed for energy optimization are known as meshes and generally refer to a zone in the building such as the floor or a room and a type of usage such as lighting or HVAC. Meshes are optimized to ensure the lowest energy consumption and cost in comparison with another solution.

Design aspects such as the availability of local energy generation and storage as well as the arrangement of circuits need to be considered. The external driving parameters include factors that have an impact on energy usage such as building occupancy, the seasons of year - such as winter or summer when electricity demands are higher - and the cost of the electricity.

Measurements are needed to assess the efficiency of a building and provide awareness about consumption. Examples of measurement tools include billing and energy usage analysis such as power meters.

As noted by Peronnet, “Buildings represent 40% of global energy demands of which a significant part is supplied by electricity. Finding ways to make energy usage more efficient can contribute greatly to a huge energy saving.”

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