A smarter way to save energy

January 14, 2014

M2MAPPS: Avner: Greenlet Technologies markets a "demand response" solution that is sold to utilities and power aggregators. Can you outline the core functionality?

AVNER COHEN : Our demand response solution allows both utilities and consumers to control and monitor the energy that’s used by their appliances. Utilities and aggregators use the solution to monitor overall power consumption, predict potential power reduction, notify consumers in advance, reduce a lot of power at the right time and provide consumers with a monetary refund. In addition, utilities improve their customer relationship and are recognized as Green organizations. Consumers use our software package and the kit to save money on a daily basis, to be aware of energy usage and costs and to automate usage of appliances. It’s based on sophisticated smart plug units that communicate with a gateway using ZigBee and the gateway communicates over the Internet with the utility’s central software server. Unlike regular energy saving solutions it doesn’t involve the use of smart meters.

M2MAPPS: Why did you bypass the smart meter route?

AVNER COHEN : Smart meters are not mandated in most of US states. They don’t help in the reduction of power at times when there is an unexpected critical peak, which come during high-usage periods such as hot summer days when demand for electricity is highest, or when there are problems with the grid and this results in the grid being strained. This is a critical issue for the utilities and that’s why our current focus is on the North American market. We recognized that utilities in the US need a solution that allows them to reduce peak consumption by motivating their customers to reduce their usage during those critical times, which may only be a few dozens of hours a year. Nevertheless, in states where smart meters are installed people need a complementary solution that would help them adjust usage of appliances to the dynamic tariffs and our system is helping them set rules for appliances usage. For example, the system can prevent usage of dryers and washers in times when the tariff is high and also tell consumers how to save money by automating usage of appliances.

M2MAPPS: How does everything come together? How does it work?

AVNER COHEN : Greenlet’s energy management software automatically recognizes the types of appliances connected according to their signatures and associates the appliances to the right program (we have different programs for different appliances). The software collects power consumption data from the smart plugs and predicts future consumption. When utilities need to reduce power they set a Demand Response command and the system allows utilities to notify customers of the event. Notification is done by email and or text messages. The system automatically handles appliances according to their types - it does not shut down appliances such as washers and dryers that are in use at those times, but it does block usage in advance. Consumers get monetary rebates for their willingness to reduce consumption during peak hours.

M2MAPPS: You mentioned incentive programs earlier. How do you motivate consumers?

AVNER COHEN : While the primary motivation is financial, consumers also use the kit as a basic smart home and to feel greener. For example, 10% off the electricity bill if they agree not to use the heavy-duty appliances during those peak demand times. Customers who sign up are sent kits with Greenlet’s smart plugs and a gateway as well as a username and password for their personal Web portal and mobile application. Each smart plug serves as an accurate meter, controller and protector for the attached appliance. In this case the plugs have embedded communications functionality that can detect if it has been removed from the wall socket. This is needed in order to prevent customers bypassing the agreement. In addition, our patented technology allows us to verify that the appliance was not removed or replaced. When these plugs are connected to the mains they are automatically registered on the utility’s main servers, which can then begin controlling and monitoring appliances following commands received from the management system and the consumer’s portal.

M2MAPPS: How do these programs work?

AVNER COHEN : They offer significant financial savings up front and they are a great marketing tool but customers can, and most will, employ the Web portal or mobile app to manage and monitor their connected loads 24/7. In this way they gain awareness of their power consumption habits, and benefit from online tips and recommendations that promote additional savings. The appliances can be managed and monitored remotely from a PC, notebook or a smartphone. The utility’s control center sends information on power reduction events via emails and through the portal, and presents the payback and the savings. In addition, customers get weekly emails with information about each appliance as well as specific actions that will help them reduce their consumption and bill for these particular appliances. The actions proposed are based on the knowledge that is harvested at the control center. Customers can remove the smart plug and make a direct connection, but this will be detected through our patented technology that utilizes electrical signatures to detect appliance connectivity. The incentive program does not mandate 100% participation in the events, so there will normally be a figure of say 80% compliance before any action is taken.

M2MAPPS: Sounds good, but are they working out there: in the field.

AVNER COHEN : We’re getting significant traction, both in the States and Israel, and more recently in the U.K. For example, there are several projects with CUB organization in Chicago, Illinois; Dominion Power in Virginia, several universities and municipalities in the US and in Israel.


Source: m2m apps