There are two complementary visions for a low carbon housing future: building standards that provide thermal efficiency; and building automation and control systems that add smartness. Both share a perception of occupants as preoccupied primarily with cost and aesthetics, deficient in knowledge and environmental concern, and thus unable/unwilling to accept any change in lifestyle. Reducing energy use can thus only be achieved as passively as possible or with fully automated systems.
This narrow vision is much questioned nowadays. Material aspects are complemented by social insights into how we live in our homes – enter sociocultural sciences in energy policy design.
A good example of a motor-driven system with built-in buffer capacity is water management.
Driven primarily by pump systems with electric motors, water management, purification and desalination score high on nearly all flexibility criteria. Moreover, it is a sector of growing concern because of the increasing need and decreasing availability of fresh water sources in many regions of the world, including Europe. In short, this sector represents a growing opportunity to make motor systems participate in demand response.
Extending the useful life of equipment is one of the pillar principles of the circular economy.
Electrical systems often fail at connections and joints. If designed or installed inadequately, they can become places of higher electrical resistivity, resulting in local hot spots. Apart from increasing the energy losses, hotspots can cause irreparable physical damage and even fire.
For example, connections can fail prematurely because of mechanical pressures, thermal expansion or galvanic corrosion. They are therefore to be properly designed, produced and managed.
Industry has worked hard to improve its energy efficiency, with impressive results so far. The new challenge is to make energy demand more controllable, able to fluctuate to respond to the electricity market conditions. Such flexibility can be in conflict with energy efficiency. Industrial operators will have to deal with additional parameters to optimise their economic output. In any case, both energy efficiency and flexibility are great tools for decarbonisation.
Energy efficiency is significantly impacting global energy demand, reducing consumers’ energy bills, holding back emissions growth and making energy systems more secure.
However, according to the IEA (Dec 2017), ‘global progress has become dependent on yesterday’s policies, with the implementation of new policies slowing. If the world is to transition to a clean energy future, a pipeline of new efficiency policies needs to be coming into force. Instead, the current low rate of implementation risks a backward step.’