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Half-hourly settlement periods are the gold standard for energy metering and data. Image: Getty.
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How to avoid the hidden costs of energy data

Half-hourly settlement periods are the gold standard for energy metering and data. Image: Getty.

Tasked with hitting net zero targets, energy managers are turning to energy data to find clues on how to cut emissions, and bills. However, the demand for data comes with its own risk: the hidden energy costs of data collection. Energy users can save 30% on their energy bills simply by collecting their data correctly, even before they have implemented any energy efficiencies.

Understanding how your data is collected is the often overlooked first step to making the most of your energy insights. But what kind of data collection should you opt for?

The golden standard of data collection

The rise of smart metering aligns with the growing wave of business consumers who are interested in making the link between their energy data and their sustainability targets. Different meters offer different levels of insight, but the gold standard is half-hourly electricity supply, whereby your meter collects and remotely reports details on your energy use twice an hour.

Historically, only the largest consumers installed half-hourly meters on site. This level of insight was considered the privilege of companies consuming very large quantities of energy on a daily basis. However, recent programmes such as P272 and the Smart Meter Implementation Programme (SMIP) have rebalanced the scales. Now many more consumers, big or small, can gain access to their half-hourly energy data. And with this shift comes a levelling of opportunities for organisations to make better use of their energy.

The energy industry is on board with the benefits for consumers, so much so that Ofgem is working to transition the whole electricity market to half hourly settlement. This means that energy suppliers will be expected to support businesses to upgrade any existing meters. Switching to smart meters allows for real-time decision-making about where energy is really needed, where savings could be made and how operations could reflect the most efficient use of energy. However, it is important to be aware of how this data collection and reporting works, in order to make the most of the opportunity.

Who collects your data and how do they do it?

When your business or organisation signs up to half-hourly metering, this sets off a series of events for collecting, validating and reporting your data. The process is called Data Collection and Data Aggregation (DC/DA). Your electricity meter will take 48 half hourly readings throughout the day, which are then validated and sent to your energy supplier. Once collected, the data is sent to the aggregator, who profiles it to make sure it’s in line with industry regulations. Finally, your data is submitted to settlements and used to calculate how much the supplier, and ultimately you, should be charged.

Your data’s journey through collection and aggregation is fairly simple, but the cost of passing it through this chain can vary widely. What many customers who sign up to the benefits of half-hourly data collection don’t realise is that their energy supplier automatically assigns an agent to perform this collection and aggregation service. The customer hasn’t been given the opportunity to shop around.

In fact, organisations can choose their own provider for DC/DA services, and their data supplier doesn’t need to be the same as their energy supplier. A direct contract that circumvents third-party agents can generate significant savings.

At SSE Energy Solutions, we launched our DC/DA service to raise awareness of the choice many organisations don’t know they have and offer a more bespoke option for energy managers looking to translate detailed data into impactful carbon cuts. We’ve set up our system to proactively resolve any outstanding issues that are preventing the remote collection of consumption data, and then determine the root cause so this can be weeded out. With over 5,000 customers signed up over the last six months alone, we are firm in our belief that bespoke collection and reporting is essential to helping customers make the most out of data.

More data, less carbon

Choosing how and when you collect your data puts the control in your hands, but energy and facilities managers still need to know how to act on this wealth of information. Once armed with half-hourly data, the next step is to develop or update a strategic energy management plan. Quick wins can be identified and implemented fast, but the ultimate goal should be continuous improvement.

Getting the basics right will enable businesses to develop strategies that incorporate innovative solutions. Simple steps that are often overlooked can include checking your baseline - when was the lowest consumption; over COVID or Christmas? Are you keeping to this level during non-operating hours? Can you change operations in the most expensive tariff hours to the cheaper tariff hours?

Once you can see where energy is wasted in your operations, you can take a more ‘full system’ approach. Automation, condition-based maintenance and predictive maintenance for plant and equipment such as lighting and heating, ventilation, and air- conditioning (HVAC) are all outputs from utilising data. Smart buildings will bring data together allowing real time system integration from consumption, electric vehicles, generation, and storage - giving building occupants the perfect working environment and building owners performance intelligence for net zero transition strategies.

Energy data can even provide additional revenue generating opportunities. Knowing when your electrical loads are really needed can open the door to demand response and flexibility services, whereby loads are switched on or off in response to grid needs. This flexible approach means organisations can choose to use electricity when it’s cheaper and sell back excess when the grid needs it most.

Let’s power change together

When we set up our DC/DA service, we wanted to make sure that not only was the data collected for our customers accurate, but that it empowered them to make real changes. That’s why we provide access to a team of half-hourly experts to assist with data queries. We also offer bespoke reporting tailored to customer needs through our Business Energy Intelligence online energy management platform. The absolute focus on presenting data in an easy-to-digest format ensures carbon efficiencies and cost savings can be identified fast - helping your company hit its net zero and financial goals.

Energy data is a powerful tool. With better data comes better use of energy, the value of which goes far beyond what can be counted.

If you’d like to know more about using half hour collection and data drilling to boost your energy performance, feel free to get in touch with the team:

  • Andrew Bray - Senior Business Development Manager
  • Rebecca Bennett – DCDA Manager
  • Zoe O’Hare – Business Development Manager

Contact us at hhdataservices@sse.com

For more information on DC/DA, click here

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Eunice Mabey Energy optimisation director, SSE Energy Solutions - Distributed Energy

Eunice Mabey is energy optimisation director at SSE Energy Solutions - Distributed Energy.

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