Spot a faulty inverter, validate battery storage projects, track your net metering, and more.
As microgrid technologies go mainstream, the complexity of managing electricity is increasingly being shared between utilities and building operators. In the past, buildings were largely passive price-takers. The most you could do to manage your energy use was to try to reduce it or maybe shift it to a cheaper time.
Now energy generation and storage are credible, affordable options. You might use solar panels to charge up a bank of batteries so that you can trim your demand charges during hot summer months. Particularly skilled operators can radically change the economics of demand response programs by deploying electricity exactly when needed.
These new technologies mean that electricity no longer flows in a single direction, from utility to consumer. Your building might put electricity back onto the grid on sunny afternoons. Electricity flows into batteries during charge cycles and then back out during discharge. Transmission has become a two-way street.
How can operators manage this new complexity? With Snapmeter. We recently upgraded Snapmeter’s data visualizations to make it much easier to overlay and track electricity flow in any direction. By allowing operators to combine meters into “synthetic” load curves, Snapmeter provides the tooling and instrumentation your microgrid was missing.
Customers are already using these new capabilities to reveal surprising insights.
Adding fidelity to behind-the-meter technology
The building-as-energy-system pictured above has a cogeneration plant on a real-time meter, two solar generation meters, a meter for electricity when it flows back to the utility grid, and another meter for electricity used on campus that’s supplied by the utility grid. The black curve shows a synthetic, true load curve for the total energy used by the campus.
On-site generation is great, but it’s important to track total energy use as well, so that building managers can continue to focus on the task of reducing overall energy use and boosting efficiency. Snapmeter makes that possible.
Spotting faults before they slip through the “net”
What happens after you hit zero? Net-zero energy buildings limited to utility bill data or a single net-energy meter have visibility only down to zero kW, using legacy data sources.
With Snapmeter’s new visualization capabilities, buildings can now see just how “zero” their operations truly are. If you put 100 kW back onto the grid at 1:15pm on a sunny Sunday afternoon, you’ll see that negative flow directly on your load chart and in your heatmap.
This is useful because it can reveal faults in generating assets. On a heatmap, a faulty solar PV inverter that had been limiting the amount of electricity put back onto the grid is easy to spot. And to see the fixed inverter unlock the full power of the solar system on this building is, indeed, beautiful.
There are other reasons to love synthetic load curves and real-time data. If you have questions about getting this level of detail into your building operations, let us know. And if you haven’t already, take a look at our recent announcement on water data analytics.