As companies strive for sustainable energy solutions and cost reduction, a growing number, especially those with significant energy demand, are turning to behind-the-meter-generation, such as solar power. These environmentally responsible choices can also represent strategic financial moves which require careful integration with a complex commercial model. One of our customers, located on the West Coast of America, exemplified this commitment by investing in a 17MW solar farm and incorporating fuel cell technology.
While the integration of renewable assets succeeded in reducing grid demand and enabling energy sales back to the grid, it required a transition to a complex multiplier-based energy market tariff. This tariff introduced varying costs based on monthly peak usage, posing challenges in accurately assessing the financial returns of the solar plant. Moreover, it obstructed a clear understanding of the most effective operational changes to further mitigate peak grid demand.
To tackle these crucial challenges, our client sought insights into the financial KPIs of their renewable investments and expert guidance on optimising on-site energy generation.
First Step: Understanding the Data Landscape
The initial review of the data landscape revealed that energy usage (kW) was comprehensively monitored at a one-second frequency across all distribution boards on-site, with data centralised in a dedicated database. This data collection maturity gave a head start on our usual initial steps of retrofitting energy monitors and building a data pipeline for collating and storing data.
With sufficient data being collected for the scope of work, our engineers could seamlessly connect to the existing database to extract the required data to for analysis.
Gaining Deeper Insights: Navigating the Complex Tariff
With the data integrated, we embarked on a comprehensive review of the complex multiplier-based energy market tariff. We carefully dissected the tariff's billing logic and replicated it within our systems for in-depth analysis.
A critical aspect of this analysis was the ability to calculate 'what-if' scenarios. We conducted extensive simulations to determine potential energy charges under various conditions, including when the solar plant was offline. By comparing these charges to the preceding, simpler, usage tariff, we could calculate the financial impact of the solar plant investment to date.
Unmasking Financial ROIs and Optimization Opportunities
The insights gleaned from our data-driven analysis were invaluable. By understanding the financial KPIs, the leadership team could now clearly assess the return on investment (ROI) from their renewable assets. Additionally, our analysis shed light on the most effective ways to optimise on-site energy demand to further reduce peak grid demand. Armed with a comprehensive understanding of peak usage patterns and associated costs, the client could implement targeted operational changes to maximize their renewable energy usage.
Empowering Decision-Making with a User-Friendly Dashboard
With the backend of the application nearing completion, we shifted our focus to the frontend dashboard. Collaborating with stakeholders, we identified the most valuable features and metrics to be displayed, to provide a live dashboard of in-month, easily digestible usage information and associated costs. This approach enabled real-time insights, empowering the client to make data-driven decisions instead of waiting for retrospective and opaque energy bills.
Conclusion: Driving Sustainable Success
Our data-driven approach to navigating complex tariffs and optimising renewable energy investments gave our client the information that would unlock substantial savings through strategic on-site demand re-profiling to reduce peak grid demand.