Connect with us

Featured

Switch on the smart grid

Published

on

The infrastructure that delivers electricity from our local utility and municipalities to buildings – is over-taxed, but by linking all supply and demand elements through intelligent communication, the grid could constantly monitor demand and adjust delivery accordingly, writes NEIL CAMERON, GM at Johnson Controls Building Efficiency.

The grid – the infrastructure that delivers electricity from our local utility and municipalities to buildings – is over-taxed. Because of increasing demand during peak time periods and the imminent output of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind when South Africa’s Independent Power Producers (IPP’s) start contributing with supply, the grid is less able to provide a stable energy supply. However, by linking all supply and demand elements through intelligent two-way communication, the grid could constantly monitor demand and adjust delivery accordingly. That’s the idea behind the “smart grid.” For example, by interfacing with home appliances or building controls, the smart grid could allow those energy-consuming devices to operate in off-peak periods and disable them during peak periods to save energy, reduce strain on the grid and enable users to consume electricity when it is least expensive.

In South Africa, we do not have a ‘smart grid’ per se but the natural progression to our energy crisis is to implement the technology in order to connect demand to supply capabilities and deliver bi-directional information between the utility and the consumer.  It will drive consumer usage and behaviour through ‘time of use’ billing and enable facilities (and consumers) to reduce their consumption during peak periods. Facilities will be able to control their energy loads by having them connected to a smart grid and enable companies to manage their own load shedding. This will deliver significant financial benefits to organisations and assist the utility to manage demand better. To deliver all the benefits the smart grid has to offer, smart buildings need to be connected to it.

A smart building provides some or all of the following advanced capabilities:

·         Optimised coordination of energy loads, on-site energy generation and energy storage.

·         Fully integrated control of lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, IT, and other energy consuming systems, using weather data and information from security, scheduling and other business systems to optimise performance.

·         Advanced diagnostics and automated measurement, verification and reporting of energy and greenhouse gas emissions savings.

·         Continuous two-way communication between the building and the grid.

·         Automatic demand response to dynamic pricing signals from the grid. By utilising smart building technologies, owners and tenants can vary electricity usage in response to signals from the grid when prices change to consume electricity when it’s cheaper, and they can reduce demand when the grid is reaching capacity.

This is known as “demand response.” Smart building management systems can automate a short-term reduction in energy demand through load shedding or load shifting. For example, if the owner sets an electricity price threshold for the building and the grid signals that the price will exceed that threshold at a particular time of the day, the system would automatically reduce energy demand in the building at that time. The system could turn off non-critical loads, reduce lighting levels and let building temperatures float within limits or start the use of stored or on-site energy generation.

Combining smart grid and smart building technologies improves reliability and security, while reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Johnson Controls has been providing smart building technologies to customers for years and those customers are reaping the benefits. Commercial buildings in the U.S. now consume 18 percent of the country’s energy and 36 percent of the electricity. In a recent Energy Efficiency Indicator study, 44 percent of facility executives in the U.S. selected smart building technology as one of the top three technologies expected to have the greatest price-performance improvement over the next 10 years. The time to deploy smart building technologies is now. Doing so could avoid $33 billion in energy costs and eliminate 160 million tons of carbon emissions annually by the year 2030.

Featured

Smart home arrives in SA

The smart home is no longer a distant vision confined to advanced economies, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

Published

on

The smart home is a wonderful vision for controlling every aspect of one’s living environment via remote control, apps and sensors. But, because it is both complex and expensive, there has been little appetite for it in South Africa.

The two main routes for smart home installation are both fraught with peril – financial and technical.

The first is to call on a specialist installation company. Surprisingly, there are many in South Africa. Google “smart home” +”South Africa”, and thousands of results appear. The problem is that, because the industry is so new, few have built up solid track records and reputations. Costs vary wildly, few standards exist, and the cost of after-sales service will turn out to be more important than the upfront price.

The second route is to assemble the components of a smart home, and attempt self-installation. For the non-technical, this is often a non-starter. Not only does one need a fairly good knowledge of Wi-Fi configuration, but also a broad understanding of the Internet of Things (IoT) – the ability for devices to sense their environment, connect to each other, and share information.

The good news, though, is that it is getting easier and more cost effective all the time.

My first efforts in this direction started a few years ago with finding smart plugs on Amazon.com. These are power adaptors that turn regular sockets into “smart sockets” by adding Wi-Fi and an on-off switch, among other. A smart lightbulb was sourced from Gearbest in China. At the time, these were the cheapest and most basic elements for a starter smart home environment.

Via a smartphone app, the light could be switched on from the other side of the world. It sounds trivial and silly, but on such basic functions the future is slowly built.

Fast forward a year or two, and these components are available from hundreds of outlets, they have plummeted in cost, and the range of options is bewildering. That, of course, makes the quest even more bewildering. Who can be trusted for quality, fulfilment and after-sales support? Which products will be obsolete in the next year or two as technology advances even more rapidly?

These are some of the challenges that a leading South African technology distributor, Syntech, decided to address in adding smart home products to its portfolio. It selected LifeSmart, a global brand with proven expertise in both IoT and smart home products.

Equally significantly, LifeSmart combines IoT with artificial intelligence and machine learning, meaning that the devices “learn” the best ways of connecting, sharing and integrating new elements. Because they all fall under the same brand, they are designed to integrate with the LifeSmart app, which is available for Android and iOS phones, as well as Android TV.

Click here to read about how LifeSmart makes installing smart home devices easier.

Previous Page1 of 2

Continue Reading

Featured

Matrics must prepare for AI

Published

on

students writing a test

By Vian Chinner, CEO and founder of Xineoh.

Many in the matric class of 2018 are currently weighing up their options for the future. With the country’s high unemployment rate casting a shadow on their opportunities, these future jobseekers have been encouraged to look into which skills are required by the market, tailoring their occupational training to align with demand and thereby improving their chances of finding a job, writes Vian Chinner – a South African innovator, data scientist and CEO of the machine learning company specialising in consumer behaviour prediction, Xineoh.

With rapid innovation and development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), all careers – including high-demand professions like engineers, teachers and electricians – will look significantly different in the years to come.

Notably, the third wave of internet connectivity, whereby our physical world begins to merge with that of the internet, is upon us. This is evident in how widespread AI is being implemented across industries as well as in our homes with the use of automation solutions and bots like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. So much data is collected from the physical world every day and AI makes sense of it all.

Not only do new industries related to technology like AI open new career paths, such as those specialising in data science, but it will also modify those which already exist. 

So, what should matriculants be considering when deciding what route to take?

For highly academic individuals, who are exceptionally strong in mathematics, data science is definitely the way to go. There is, and will continue to be, massive demand internationally as well as locally, with Element-AI noting that there are only between 0 and 100 data scientists in South Africa, with the true number being closer to 0.

In terms of getting a foot in the door to become a successful data scientist, practical experience, working with an AI-focused business, is essential. Students should consider getting an internship while they are studying or going straight into an internship, learning on the job and taking specialist online courses from institutions like Stanford University and MIT as they go.

This career path is, however, limited to the highly academic and mathematically gifted, but the technology is inevitably going to overlap with all other professions and so, those who are looking to begin their careers should take note of which skills will be in demand in future, versus which will be made redundant by AI.

In the next few years, technicians who are able to install and maintain new technology will be highly sought after. On the other hand, many entry level jobs will likely be taken care of by AI – from the slicing and dicing currently done by assistant chefs, to the laying of bricks by labourers in the building sector.

As a rule, students should be looking at the skills required for the job one step up from an entry level position and working towards developing these. Those training to be journalists, for instance, should work towards the skill level of an editor and a bookkeeping trainee, the role of financial consultant.

This also means that new workforce entrants should be prepared to walk into a more demanding role, with more responsibility, than perhaps previously anticipated and that the country’s education and training system should adapt to the shift in required skills.

The matric classes of 2018 have completed their schooling in the information age and we should be equipping them, and future generations, for the future market – AI is central to this.

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2018 World Wide Worx