The smart energy sector is an area of increasing interest across both public and private sectors. In particular, there is increasing attention on energy-smart buildings. In a world where buildings account for about 40% of total energy consumption and contribute a corresponding amount to overall carbon emissions (Accenture 2011), organisations are increasingly investing in solutions based on cloud and the Internet of Things to monitor and reduce energy consumption from their buildings.
Opinum is an SME in Belgium that has developed such a solution, serving markets in the Benelux countries, France and the Nordics. The company’s Energy Impact web application is designed to empower organisations to effectively manage energy usage in their facilities and save energy, reducing the cost of electricity bills by up to 30%.
Data from buildings and installations are collected through sensors, and then consolidated and centralised on an online monitoring platform that can be viewed in real-time on an intuitive dashboard. The data of buildings could then be analysed and compared, giving insights into the energy consumption of facilities. The application is built on Microsoft Azure Cloud Services but is also integrated and adapted with Opinum’s own installations, working as a hybrid of cloud and on-premise infrastructure.
The Belgian company evolved from an idea to a small thriving business in only a few years. Loïc Bar, Opinum’s now Head of ICT Energy Division, wanted to use his skills as a software engineer to have a positive impact on society. He was contacted by a company to develop a product for the energy sector, and he created what was the origin of Opinum’s current tool. Aftersecuring the intellectual property rights for the software, he and his team decided to further develop it as a service, initially beginning by monitoring solar energy production with their first client, and eventually extending their tool to monitor consumption data as well.
“We focused on buildings and we found something interesting: There were a lot of hardware solutions on the market but none were compatible with each other. So what we built was a platform to collect energy data from sensors.”
In the near future, Opinum is looking to expand into Micro-Grid and Smart Grid management. At a Micro-Grid level, their products can already optimise different systems in nearby buildings by enabling communication between them. Soon, a solar energy installation producing too much will be able to store energy in a battery system in a nearby building and this battery can then release energy when needed. At the Smart Grid level, their data, correlated with energy market information, can help better handle energy picking on the grid, saving money for customers.
Find out more about Opinum and their services by visiting their website.
To learn about Microsoft’s commitment to energy-smart buildings, visit www.microsoft.com/environment.