Energy Efficiency trends
Surging energy costs, the disruption of energy supply chains and the looming shortages of energy have sharpened the focus on the implementation of new measures and policies to use, manage and conserve energy more efficiently. Grid reinforcement efforts are unable to keep up with the growth in electrification. Networks are also limited by their hosting capacity due to the exponential growth in renewable energy applications. Energy Efficiency measures thus bring value to consumers – notably in a period where energy cost-of-living pressures have risen considerably. It is within this realm that a set of binding measures are implemented by countries to improve energy efficiency . To better manage the energy and electricity use and to make efficiency related decisions, a series of standards and policy decisions are adopted in countries to manage the transition towards a more carbon neutral energy use.
CIGRE’s activities on Energy Efficiency
The gas crisis in 2022 has changed the way the world is responding to the energy crisis and has significantly spurned an interest in energy efficiency measures in many countries across the globe. The outcome of the Working Group C5.24 activities resulted in the publishing of Technical Brochure 803, which explores the market value of smart grids and the interactions with wholesale and distribution markets. The document distils the changing characteristics of power systems, whilst achieving greater energy intensity and efficiency levels.
As the demand for electricity increases, the need to implement further energy efficiency measures becomes paramount. A range of measures have thus been introduced to support the drive towards a decarbonized future. Regulatory requirements for buildings, such as EN 17267, have been introduced with passive and active measures being introduced to promote energy efficiency. It intends to create an obligation for property owners to perform regular energy audits via building automation and control systems, and to ensure that the buildings are Green Building certified. Energy management techniques coupled to energy efficiency measures are thus geared towards reducing energy usage and to save energy by adapting customer behaviour. It invariably follows that improved electricity reliability is an outcome due to greater visibility and controllability associated with the adopted measures. The IEC 60364-8-1 Standard recommends an energy efficiency approach for the design of electrical installations. It adopts a life-cycle approach to both existing and new buildings with a focus on minimizing energy losses and ensuring that energy is used at the right time, and at the right cost. Study Committee C6 thus intends to explore some of these activities in the planned Working Group that is to be launched in 2023.
A variety of technology options and disruptors also contribute to improved energy efficiency measures. Electrification measures such as the adoption of heat pumps, reactive power optimization and the migration towards DC usage in Data Centres are being considered in a quest for greater energy efficiency. Major strides have also been made in the electrification of transport and heating, and the IEA  reports that one in eight vehicles sold in 2022 is now electric. To support these different possibilities to improve energy efficiency, SC C6 has conducted a significant amount of work related to integrating distributed energy resources (DER), particularly based on renewable energy resources (RES), in distribution grids. The approaches for achieving enhancements, including energy efficiency, to the power grid by using local DER and Smart Grid options are covered in the scope of past and ongoing C6 Working Groups, including battery energy storage systems (WG C6.43), and multi-energy systems (WG C6/C1.33). Energy Efficiency can also be integrated in deploying and exploiting DER flexibility (WG C6/C2.34), DER aggregation (WG C6.35) and DER in microgrids.
C6 proposes to investigate the following themes for the establishment of new proposed Working Group activity in cooperation with other Study Committees when necessary.
- Climate change and net zero operation of distribution grids – decarbonization approaches as a guide to improved climate resilience
- Forecasting of renewable energy resources (solar) and load, a tool for enhancing DER flexibility services, data management and use of AI, with the use of the geospatial location of DER.
- Distribution system planning approaches, considering DER flexibility resources, use of AI and optimization tools, thus enhancing energy efficiencies, the system resilience and reliability of distribution networks.
- Potential Capability Assessment of Customers’ Participation in Demand Response
- Recommended practice for DSO-customer communication interface
New SC C6 Working Group aim and scope
Study Committee C6 aims to initiate a Working Group on energy efficiency. The Working Group intends to provide an overview of best practices relating to the introduction of a variety of distribution related energy efficiency measures around the globe. It will thus be a reference for Utilities, Regulators, and associated Stakeholders to achieve the aim of a sustainable energy future. The Working Group will investigate trends adopted internationally by incorporating academic research whilst keeping an eye on emerging industry and regulatory practices.
The Working Group would investigate and report on the following intended outcomes:
- Introduction with a clear definition of energy efficiency.
- Current international trends of energy efficiency measures. It includes strategies deployed by countries, the impact of energy efficiency measures and the consequent reduction in the energy burden and decarbonisation metrics.
- Regulatory, governmental, and institutional stakeholder coordination requirements to further energy efficiency aims and objectives.
- Application of Energy efficiency measures and tools. This would include:
- Industrial applications
- Residential buildings and commercial properties
- Power factor correction measures
- Lighting and streetlighting programs
- Heating and cooling measures
- Other regulations, which includes material used for construction, insulation, double-glazing etc
- Impacts on end-use load profiles.
- Energy Efficiency Standards that are applicable guides for customers and to aid transparency for the use of appliances, heat pumps, lighting, and refrigeration.
- Co-location of generation and consumption to minimise the impact of technical losses, reduce the need for public infrastructure and reduce land use needs. It includes energy efficiency metrics where DER integration measures were adopted.
- Maintenance and life-cycle analysis requirements for the energy efficiency requirements to ensure system benefits are derived.
- Digital strategies and platforms that enable the adoption of energy efficiency measures.
- Lessons learned and an evolution towards new energy efficiency measures (examples from around the globe) related to distribution, concentrating on technology used, innovative practices adopted, and tools and systems used to manage the energy efficiency programs
- Conclusions and energy efficiency considerations for the future.
The finalisation of the scope and establishment of this Working Group is expected in the first half of 2023. Further alignment with working groups that are currently active within C6, notably C6.40 for EV integration, C6.39 for Customer Empowerment, C6.43 for Battery Storage and C6.45 on Resilience, will provide an added opportunity to couple the energy efficiency principle with a wider set of technology options.