NTU scientists find way to help firms cut energy bills

FRANCIS LAW Today Online 14 Dec 15;

SINGAPORE — Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have designed an algorithm that can help companies and factories save as much as 10 per cent in energy bills by letting them know exactly how much power is being used throughout the day.

By analysing detailed power usage patterns over time, the algorithm predicts energy consumption needs and recommends ways to save energy.

The algorithm’s developer Assistant Professor Wen Yonggang from NTU’s School of Computer Engineering likens the principle to estimating the amount of food needed for a family, based on the number of diners and their preference for specific food.

“If we know how much food is expected to be consumed tomorrow night, we can save the cost by reducing the food wastage. In data centres’ context, if we know that only 100 servers are needed to run some services for the customers, we can turn off the rest of servers to save a lot of energy,” he said.

Power usage data is collected by sensors in existing computer chips in equipment such as servers, air-conditioning systems and industrial machinery, as well as external sensors.

Asst Prof Wen’s algorithm has been licensed by Evercomm, a two-year-old start-up, which is working with several semi-conductor manufacturers, including GlobalFoundries — the second largest foundry in the world — and several datacentre companies to help them cut energy consumption.

The average semi-conductor factory typically spends about S$50 million per year on electricity bills. Through the algorithm, a large factory can save up to S$1 million, according to Evercomm Singapore’s co-founder and product architect Ted Chen.

Evercomm has also developed a computer chip that can be integrated into existing sensors to allow data to be collected wirelessly and fed to a central server. These chips have been installed into street lamps around Taiwan’s National Dong Hwa University’s campus and analysis of the richer data is expected to save S$4.6 million in energy costs over seven years.

Mr Chen said: “Instead of collecting just power data from the machines, we actually go one step further and collect all the fundamental data like temperature, weather, etcetera, so we can tell you exactly why the power goes up and down, and what to change, so you can save energy.”

The company is working on another chip that would connect up to 2,000 sensor nodes, allowing the technology to be used by cities to monitor and manage energy consumption. Evercomm is exploring deploying this technology into HDB flats and housing estates.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelt the name of manufacturer GlobalFoundries. We are sorry for the error.

No comments:

Post a Comment