As demand for energy is increasing worldwide along environmental conservation measures and volatility in energy prices, there is urgent need for development of alternative energy sources and energy conservation. Some of the developments include automatic timers and programmable thermostats which turn off lights when not needed and control their heating and cooling systems to reduce consumption. However, use of alternative sources of technology has been limited due to various reasons such as uncertainty of alternative energy supplies (e.g. water, sunand wind), difficulty in recovering costs and difficulty in integration all the sources and devices into a single conventional electrical control system.
A modular energy control system allows an energy consumer to better balance generation, consumption and storage of electrical energy. It also allows the energy consumer to store the electrical energy generated from different sources such as PV (photovoltaic) panels, batteries, etc. With conventional use of modular energy control systems, consumers can more efficiently use the energy resources by monitoring energy supplies and projecting energy demands. However, the equipment required to integrate and coordinate energy balancing may be bulky and expensive.
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A modular energy control system is a wireless base unit which communicates with one or more wireless load manager units to receive power supply and demand projections from one or more loads connected to the wireless load manager. In case of dynamic variables such as change in electricity prices, the base unit transmits the message to the load manager to reduce power consumption by one or more loads or to shut it off if required. New load managers can be added to the system with a scalable cost and minimal configuration.
The modular energy control system is a major part of energy management, more specifically methods for controlling energy generation and consumption devices, better known as smart power grids. The energy management system focuses primarily on energy consumption, however, by integrating demand and supply side options with energy consumption choices, various modular energy control systems can be used to increase energy and cost savings. A modular energy control system is equally efficient where the demand forecasting from electrical power and supply from the energy sources are weather dependent, such as PV panels.
For instance, a business pays electricity bills on perkilowatt-hour basis. The company bears an additional charge for peak hours during the billing period. Using modular energy control systems, the instantaneous energy usage can be monitored. The system can then be adjusted so as to discourage peaky consumption because of high cost, for a short period. If the demand exceeds a threshold, demand from the grids can be reduced using batteries or critical energy users like freezers, which can be easily unplugged or disconnected using direct controls, controllable relays or sensors.
The need for efficient energy generation, consumption and storage is the major market driver for modular energy control systems. The use of renewable energy resources for generation of electrical power on a large scale is one of the major challenges for the modular energy control systems, as the stability of the grid is affected.
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The market for modular energy control system can be segmented into software and hardware solution providers. Top ten EMS (Energy Management Software) providers are JouleX Energy Manager, Utilities Direct, SAPSE, EnergyCAP, Schneider Electric,PowerLogic ION EEM, CRedit360, eSight Energy, C3 Energy, Hara EEM and CA Technologies.