Capgemini on integrating energy and automation
A report by French multinational Capgemini has identified the energy sector’s insufficient integration of automation as among its greatest mistakes.
Finding that roughly 50% of respondents in its survey had under-estimated the utility of intelligent automation (IA), the company estimates that savings between US$237bn and $813bn were broadly possible if uptake for the technology was increased.
Defined as a holistic approach to digital transformation incorporating process management (BPM) and robotics (RPA), IA can result in a trinity of process optimisation, affecting users, systems and tasks.
More than this, however, IA also incorporates aspects of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to keep systems flexible.
The challenges of implementation
Taken as a whole, the adoption of AI to some degree within energy companies has demonstrated exponential growth: 52% in 2019, a large step from the 28% reported just two years previously.
However, Capgemini identifies issues around scaling tech innovations to the large operational frameworks energy companies operate in to be a problem, although this is far from a unique issue; other industries are experiencing similar challenges.
It may be from this difficulty in understanding the ‘big picture’ that the report also finds a general lack of awareness regarding easy-to-implement solutions (only 18% of organisations have done so).
Relating to core functions, these include the use of AI and data analytics to augment forecasting, energy trading and yield optimisation amongst others.
For ancillary tasks, i.e. functions which can easily be relieved by RPA, which can then allow an increase of diverted time for staff towards more qualitative tasks - contract management, defect detection, data management - the uptake was even slimmer: 11%.
If Capgemini’s report reveals anything, it is that the energy sector needs to be enlightened as to the significant benefits of integrating automation in its processes and to expand their horizons for its implementation.
The steps towards success
The report recommends five steps in the roadmap for remedying this industry problem:
Focus on pragmatism: Business leaders need clear, empirical data and case studies of energy’s integration with automation in order to facilitate a practical change within their respective companies.
Know where to optimise: Identifying the key areas that could benefit most from increased efficiencies will show short-term gains and ease the holistic optimisation of all operations.
Stay up-to-date: Technology is constantly upgrading, meaning it’s important to stay in the loop regarding the latest innovations and how they can be useful.
Maintain clear leadership: Nebulous management will impede or confuse the transition process, so always maintain a core executive with a unified vision.
Invest in staff: Upgrading the technology of a company will mean upskilling the workforce appropriately; it is important to consider that increased automation could yield an entirely different work paradigm and staff will need to be part of it.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.