Getting on track with energy

1st May 2014


Arriva

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  • Management ,
  • Management/saving

Author

Edward Crowley

the environmentalist finds out how Arriva Trains Wales is using smart meters to cut energy use and CO2 emissions

Arriva Trains Wales (ATW) uses many thousands of litres of diesel to power its trains and so has a significant carbon footprint. However, train travel is regarded as one of the most sustainable means of transport available and, as part of the public transport network, is one of the few industries whose emissions the independent committee on climate change recognises could be allowed to grow.

Managing a fleet of 126 trains, ATW delivers 27.4 million passenger journeys each year. One of its sustainability targets is to increase passenger numbers, thereby reducing demand on more carbon-intensive modes of transport. But the company also has a number of other initiatives in place to improve the carbon footprint of its operations, among them a 5% reduction in energy consumption and water use by 2018.

In addition to the carbon footprint of its trains, ATW is responsible for the CO2 emissions associated with the 245 stations it manages on behalf of Network Rail. Over the past 18 months, ATW has invested around £100,000 installing smart meters at nearly all of these stations, as well as at three large depots.

“The money spent has already been recouped through a better understanding of the energy consumption at the sites we manage,” says Richard Gotheridge, environment and sustainability manager at ATW and a Full member of IEMA. “We are using the metering equipment as a management tool to track in minute detail where, and how, we are using our £2 million-worth of electricity every year. It has enabled us to identify areas of high consumption and develop targeted solutions to reduce use.”

Building on the success of the smart metering for monitoring and reporting ATW’s electricity use, the company is now rolling out similar technologies to measure its water and gas supplies.

A revealing picture

Prior to the installation of smart meters, ATW relied on manual meter readings and bills to calculate its energy costs and identify potential efficiencies. With 191 of ATW’s 245 stations unstaffed, the exercise entailed a great deal of administration simply to verify the accuracy of bills and meant that it was difficult to identify errors or anomalies in readings.

“It also meant that our tenants – such as the companies that rented retail space on station concourses – had no financial incentive to make any reductions in energy use because they paid ATW a fixed fee, which may not have reflected their consumption,” says Gotheridge. “We now have a much fairer system with tenants paying only for what they use.”

The switch to smart metering was managed by ATW’s procurement team. In January 2012, the company selected Stark as its supplier for the energy management software and Western Power to install the smart meters. More than 300 smart electricity meters have been since been installed in ATW’s stations, alongside a comprehensive network of sub-meters to cover the train company’s tenants.

ATW can now view energy consumption across its stations almost in real time. The data immediately revealed an interesting pattern of use. “The investigations into which meters supply what energy has been a real eye-opener,” comments Dave Perrett, ATW’s procurement manager. “They have uncovered the background to anomalies that have been unclear for years, such as why some stations have half the energy use of others.”

It was already apparent from ATW’s monitoring of electricity bills that 10 of its largest sites accounted for two-thirds of the company’s total electricity consumption, and that the same sites consumed 80% of all gas use (including tenant use).

The surveys undertaken in preparation for smart metering confirmed the extent to which tenants were drawing on energy supplies. One major national retailer, for example, had not paid an electricity bill for years, because it was believed that the company had its own supply. The investigations and smart meters revealed that this was not the case. This allowed ATW to claim back payment for the firm’s electricity use and the bill almost covered the cost of the whole smart metering programme.

By reading the sub-meters that have been installed ATW can now provide its tenants with accurate billing for their energy use, incentivising them to develop their own energy-saving initiatives. “This is a huge step forward,” says Perrett. “Initially we thought that the data generated by smart meters would be useful purely for this purpose, but the benefits of using the Stark technology as a management tool go far beyond accurate billings and readings.”

Management tool

Gotheridge and his team interrogate the energy performance of each ATW site weekly, monitoring energy consumption and verifying the effectiveness of any energy-efficiency investments, such as LED lighting. This is possible because the Stark system generates an energy profile for each station, including graphs that map electricity use for lighting against daylight hours at half-hourly intervals. It takes Gotheridge and Perrett just a glance at a graph to identify the smallest anomaly in the data for a station.

One example of where this level of data has proved useful is in the management of automated lighting controls at stations. These controls include light sensors to activate lights when darkness falls and clocks to ensure that lights are automatically switched off when trains are no longer running. The graphs and “exception” reports – highlighting any unusual spikes in energy usage via daily email alerts – generated by the Stark software immediately alert ATW to areas that may need further investigation.

A spike in energy use at one of ATW’s stations could mean that the lighting was not turned off at exactly the right moment, for example. “I can see from one graph showing Narbeth station’s electricity usage, for example, that a light sensor needs attention because during the early stages of daylight the lights were still on, meaning that only the clock was working,” Perrett says.

This detailed level of surveillance enables ATW to act on any system failures almost in real time. This is particularly important at unstaffed stations where, previously, unnecessary electricity use could have continued unabated for some time unless a member of staff or the public notified the company that the lights remained on during daylight hours.

The weekly reports generated by Stark also display a league table of stations according to their energy use set against established consumption thresholds. These reports enable Gotheridge and Perrett to scan the figures and immediately see if any stations are using more energy than expected. The team can then drill deeper into the energy profiles of stations to determine any system or equipment failures.

“With smart metering, it is now easier for us to identify where we need to invest in new light-sensors or where sensors are installed in the wrong location and require moving,” says Gotheridge.

The smart metering programme also prompted ATW to introduce LED lighting at Waun-Gron Park station, where electricity use was halved overnight, generating significant cost savings. “Using our new energy profiles, we have also built business cases to undertake further energy-saving works at nine of our biggest energy-using sites, including Cardiff Central, Bangor station and the maintenance depot at Canton,” adds Gotheridge.

ATW has invested more than £75,000 in installing and upgrading lighting controls at its sites, and is using smart metering to verify the annual £31,000 and 149,000kg of CO2 savings achieved.

Going further

Buoyed by the success of its electricity metering programme, ATW is now rolling out the installation of smart meters on its gas and water supplies. “This will give us all-round visibility of our utilities usage,” says Gotheridge. “As with the electricity meters, we will be able to identify and act upon gas and water wastage much more efficiently and at an earlier stage than was possible when we relied on manual readings and bills.”

ATW is only halfway through installing the new metering equipment to its water supplies, but it has already identified significant opportunities for efficiency, mainly by locating water leaks. Isolating and rectifying leaks can be complicated, partly because the company needs to ask third-party providers, such as Network Rail, to carry out the work. Also, the leaks can be hidden or difficult to access, for example if they are beneath the tracks. But the company has made progress, with Welsh Water helping ATW to eradicate leaks at Llandudno Town, Cardiff Queen Street, Hereford and Newport stations.

Delivering water-efficiency measures across its operations is a priority for ATW this year, and its adoption of smart metering is already contributing to this goal. The Stark software generates half-hourly data that have already helped to identify water-saving projects, which ATW predicts could save up to 11,500m3 of water and £33,000 a year.

ATW is also using the Stark software as a monitoring and target-setting system across its staffed sites, enabling it to set bespoke energy-reduction targets for station management. Initially, Gotheridge and his team are focusing on 12 large stations where the greatest energy savings can be realised and can be models of good practice for ATW’s smaller stations. Electricity consumption at staffed stations is more complex than that of unstaffed stations, with more electricity required to run ticket offices and provide lighting.

Managers at the selected stations will be set a target to reduce electricity consumption. “The target will be realistic and achievable because it is based on accurate patterns of energy demand established by the smart meters at that particular station,” says Gotheridge. “We will be using a league table to encourage healthy competition between stations and promote good practice in reducing energy use.”

A smart investment

Gotheridge believes that smart metering is a good first step for any energy management strategy and can be used to even greater advantage as a management tool rather than merely for reporting. “We are now sitting on a goldmine of energy and water data that we can use to plan our sustainability strategy and initiatives to the finest detail,” he says.

ATW has realised payback in less than a year, in both financial and environmental terms, from the smart metering installations. In the past five years, the company has achieved a 12.5% reduction in cost and CO2 emissions. The energy investments that ATW has carried out, now supported by its smart metering programme, have helped the company to reduce its energy consumption by more than 306,000kWh and its carbon footprint by 149,000kg of CO2.

“Using the information gathered through the smart meters, we have prepared business cases for a further £30,000 to £60,000 of investments, which will generate significant savings in sustainability and financial terms,” explains Gotheridge.

Perrett is also keen to emphasise the considerable time savings that he and his staff have recouped as a result of the smart metering programme. Before implementing the project, he and his team would spend several days a month collating the meter readings and paperwork necessary for invoicing and billing. Now, vastly more accurate data are available at the push of a few keystrokes and ATW is supplying its tenants with electronic invoices. The time freed up by the Stark technology is now used to identify further energy-saving projects.

“With targeted investments, we are reducing our energy demand at a time of rising energy costs,” says Gotheridge. “The savings made will increase the funds available for us to deliver our core activity of providing sustainable transport solutions for Wales and beyond.”


As well as driving forward ATW’s sustainability strategy, Richard Gotheridge is working with other IEMA members to develop the Institute’s network and influence in Wales. Contact him at richard.gotheridge@arrivatw.co.uk.


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