January / February 2021 Volume 255 | No 1 www.electricalreview.co.uk
Informing the electrical industry for 140 years
Electric Vehicles What comes next for Tesla batteries after they’re no longer useful in electric cars?
The pandemic has enabled us to rethink the way we run distribution grids, and this is what we’ve learned so far.
There are some rather big changes coming to the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations.
Conten t s Regulars
04 • Editor’s Comment Rules still apply, despite a new year.
06 • News Stories from the sector.
10 • Gossage Gossip The latest gossip from our industry insider.
34 • Talking Point
Changes are afoot with Amendment 2 of the 18th Edition.
37 • Products Innovations worth watching.
38 • Final Say Building safety has changed quite a bit over the years, but how did we get here?
Features 14 • Electric Vehicles Electric vehicles can be dangerous, so Richard Poate from TUV SUD is sharing some life-saving tips on battery safety, management and maintenance.
20 • Smart Buildings
Find out how Power over Ethernet is enabling some really interesting use cases in today’s smart buildings.
32 • Power What lessons has the pandemic taught us when it comes to running distribution grids during and after national lockdowns.
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Editor’s Comment It would appear change is both constant and non-existent at the same time right now. If you’re still working, good on ya, but without that favourite pub, restaurant or some well-deserved time with friends and family to look forward to, can you really say your attitude to work (and life for that matter) has remained the same? If weekends round my way are anything to go by, you’d not be able to tell we’re in a nationwide lockdown, put it that way. At this point, people are (rightfully) fed up, climbing the walls and about to duct tape their children to the nearest vertical surface. But unfortunately, that innocent walk, or even trip to the supermarket, could land you or countless others in hospital. Yes, the rules change, and they seem to change every other week, but those rules are there to save lives. In this week’s Talking Point, we examine yet more changes that can affect lives, except this time we’re taking a deep dive into Amendment 2 of the 18th Edition Wiring Regulations and what changes you need to be aware of. Claire Fletcher, Editor
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4 Electrical www.electricalreview.co.uk Review | January /???? February 2021
News ELECSA brand to be retired Certsure has announced that it is to drop the ELECSA name in favour of the NICEIC brand, which all customers will be transferred to over the next 18 months. The decision to transfer all ELECSA operations to the NICEIC was made due to Certsure’s need to strengthen its position as the leading certification body for the building services industry. It felt it needed one unified brand to do that. ELECSA members will begin transferring to the NICEIC from April 26, 2021, with everyone set to be fully transferred by November 2022.
Britishvolt ditches Wales and opts to build the UK’s first Gigafactory in Northumberland Britishvolt has decided to drop plans to construct the UK’s first Gigafactory in Wales, and has instead selected a site in Blyth, Northumberland. Earlier this year it was announced that Britishvolt had whittled down a location for its battery factory to two sites, with the company preferring a site in South Wales. A month later, it had announced that it had formally chosen the Welsh site as the location for the UK’s first Gigafactory. Fast forward to today, and the company didn’t even mention its prior announcement in the press release. So, why has Britishvolt ditched its plans for the UK’s first Gigafactory to be located in Wales? Well, apparently the Bro Tathan site in the Vale of Glamorgan won’t be ready for construction by Summer 2021, forcing the Britishvolt team to look elsewhere. The Gigafactory in Blyth will represent £2.6 billion worth of investment in the North East, with Britishvolt promising to make 3,000 highly skilled jobs available, as well as up to 5,000 more in the wider supply chain. Construction on the site is set to begin in Summer 2021, with Britishvolt hoping to begin production on lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage devices. The company says that by 2027 it will be producing over 300,000 lithium-ion batteries a year at the site.
Barcombe in east sussex aims to be the uk’s latest zero carbon village
Barcombe in East Sussex is aiming to become the UK’s latest zero carbon village, with residents in the area teaming up with UK Power Networks to make it happen. Over 600 households have signed up to take part in the ‘CommuniHeat’ project, which is being run by UK Power Networks. The scheme aims to best understand how Barcombe and similar communities could switch to low-carbon heating using electricity.
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SELECT freezes 2021 subscription fees
SELECT has agreed to not raise its membership fees for existing members in 2021. The decision should help member firms dealing with the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Record number of companies join Recolight WEEE scheme in 2020
A total of 18 companies joined Recolight’s waste electrical and electronic equipment recycling scheme in 2020, with three more companies transferring to Recolight from other schemes in 2021. This is a record number and will give members the opportunity to safely recycle their lighting products in the most environmentally-conscious way possible.
Lack of EV chargers planned by UK councils, according to new figures New figures from Centrica have suggested that UK councils currently plan to install an underwhelming number of EV chargers over the next four years. Centrica sent a Freedom of Information request to over 400 councils, with the company finding that on average, each council planned to install just 35 chargers each. That would mean that in the next four years just 9,317 on-street EV chargers will be installed by local councils. The lack of urgency by UK councils comes not long after the UK Government announced that it would increase funding for charging infrastructure to ensure that drivers had places to charge after petrol and diesel vehicles cease being sold in the UK in 2030. While the figures for almost all UK councils were disappointing, there was a clear regional disparity. According to Centrica’s data, Southern English councils are planning to install two and a
half times as many on-street chargers than councils in Northern England, Northern Ireland, the Midlands, Scotland and Wales combined. In fact, the bulk of chargers that are set to be installed will be located in Southern England, a total of 6,713 compared to just 2,604 in the other areas. This would continue a trend where councils in Southern England roll-out more EV chargers than others across the UK, with the past three years seeing Southern councils install 1,203 more chargers than their northern counterparts. That trend is only set to increase. Of course, all these figures could change as councils decide to spend more on EV charging infrastructure, but that’s where Centrica identified an even more worrying trend. Of the over 400 councils it contacted, 126 councils admitted to having no concrete plans to install more EV chargers than they have already earmarked between now and the end of 2025.
Brexit, Covid-19 uncertainty isn’t hampering electrical industry recovery
Growing consumer demand for renewable energy fuelling investment in sector Consumers are more interested in renewable energy than ever before, with new research suggesting that 51% of consumers are looking at renewable energy tariffs when their deal comes up for renewal.
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The research from Alpha Real Capital LLP and Cornwall Insight found that 38% of consumers claim to have renewable energy tariffs for their homes already, while 51% promise to choose a renewable tariff at their next renewal.
Both Brexit and Covid-19 continue to loom over the electrical industry, creating much uncertainty. Despite that, the industry is continuing to recover. The latest survey from the Electrical Contractors Association found that the majority of businesses are recovering from the lows of the Covid-19 pandemic. It found that when 60% of businesses reported a drop in turnover during the first half of the year: 64% of businesses reported the same or increased turnover in Q3, with only 35% reporting a decrease.
Gossage Gossip Steel mining
Not a solar century?
Taking back loss of control
The howls of ecological outrage at the decision by the UK Government not to block plans for the first deep coal mine in 30 years have been loud and long. And in my view, entirely misplaced.
The US home solar business is growing fast, as tens of thousands of homeowners install panels on their roofs to save money. Installations went up by 17% last year and, even before President Biden’s ambitious climate change programme is implemented, is reckoned to grow by 15.4 GW in new capacity during 2021.
As of last month, the UK is no longer a fully-fledged member of the European electricity market. According to a European Commission spokesperson, power continues to flow across inter-connectors on both sides of the Channel, “albeit less efficiently.”
Cumbria County Council approved the £165 million West Cumbria Mining Plan back in October. Robert Jenrick, the Communities Secretary, has decided neither to stall or block the project. He (conveniently) argues that the Government is “committed to give more power to councils to make their own decisions on planning issues.” This is an argument that I am sure will be noted by Suffolk County Council, which has refused planning permission for EDF’s proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station. The Cumbria mine is set to extract about three million tonnes of coal annually, mainly from under the seabed. But none of it will be used to generate electricity. The coking coal from the site will be used exclusively by the steel industry. It will substitute for coking coal that up until now had to be imported. This eliminates the environmental costs of transporting the fuel halfway around the world to arrive at steel-making factories in the UK. So it can be argued that, even in climate change terms, the West Cumbria mine should be welcomed. What Greenpeace et al need to come up with is a way to make steel that doesn’t depend on coke as the key raw material. That would surely be a far more worthwhile objective.
Yet the biggest companies that install and finance home solar systems are reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. An ominous reminder of how hard it can be to make money even in an industry widely viewed by political leaders, and by business executives, as an important component of the global effort to address climate change. “There have been very few financial success stories,” said Vikram Aggarwal, chief executive of Energy Sage, which helps consumers compare solar installers. “Practically everyone who has tried this has failed. The road is littered with dead bodies.” SunRun and Sunnova are two of the biggest home solar companies. Between them, they lost around $500 million in the first nine months of the financial year, and their operations and component purchases used up some $1.3 billion in cash. The companies argue that these losses are occurring because solar installations are ‘growing rapidly and require a lot of upfront investments’. On the flip side, investors in these companies get to use the losses in order to offset their tax liabilities. What a curious financial world we do live in.
What does that mean, in practical terms? It means that there is no access to day-ahead or intraday trading tools for members of the European Federation of Energy Traders, an association based in the UK. It will also require a lot of extra paperwork for each transaction made. All this additional red tape of customs declarations add to the traders’ burdens. Initial estimates are that all this extra bureaucracy could increase ultimate consumer bills by between 2-5%. On top of that, the UK is also out of the European Network of Transmission System Operators, which is also known as ENTSO-E. This is the mechanism under which electricity transmission system operators interact. Inevitably we are also kicked out of ACER, the European Union Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators. This oversees the bloc’s entire energy market and, ironically, for many years was run by OFGEM’s former chairman, Lord Mogg. The consequence of all this is that UK consumers will inevitably be exposed to a whole range of measures and initiatives that will be adopted for the European electricity market. These will have been decided between the remaining 27 members, devised in rooms from which the UK is effectively banished. Not really much ‘taking back control’. Never mind. The energy chapter of the Christmas Eve agreement expires on June 30, 2026, unless both the EU and the UK are happy to continue on the same basis. My advice to the UK Government would be to open those 2026 energy chapter negotiations straight away.
Less is more The pre-Christmas Energy White Paper released by the UK Government was the first such comprehensive outline of official policy to be produced since 2006. Much has been made of the projections it makes about the likely market for electricity in 15 years’ time. I thought it worth returning to that earlier 2006 White Paper, just to see how much of what the Government had to say then has proved to be accurate. Oh dear, oh dear. No suggestion that coal-fired electricity would have disappeared. No thoughts about the prevalence of offshore wind. Great confidence in the spread of CCS. An assumption that all AGR nuclear power stations would be gone, and that a ‘family’ of new nukes would be built. All very wrong indeed. But most telling of all was the 2006 projection that total consumption of electricity would have increased in 2020 by a further 15%. Is that what occurred? Again, no, it isn’t. Whilst 2020 figures will have been artificially reduced by Covid-19, even going by the 2019 figures, , consumption had not risen, but FALLEN by a symmetrical 15% from 2006. In other words, across a short period of just 13 years, the official Government electricity consumption forecasts have proved to be entirely wrong. And not by a small margin. They ended up being exaggerated by some 30%. Make sure you remember that when you hear Tim Greatrex, the CEO of the Nuclear Industry Association, claiming that electricity sales are set to quadruple while he comments on the 2000 Energy White Paper live on BBC News. In your dreams, sonny, in your dreams. 10 Electrical Review | January / February 2021
Assessing the risks of failure in rotating machines… Rotating electrical machines, such as motors and generators, are highly important components in power generation and industrial applications. Dependable reliability and availability are therefore crucial during the operational life of rotating machines. Here, OMICRON highlights the importance of assessing risk of failure in rotating machines.
Ongoing condition assessments Premature failure may lead to significant economic losses, due to unexpected outages and possible equipment damage. Failure in motors and generators is influenced by thermal, electrical and mechanical stress factors over time. For an accurate failure risk assessment, it is essential to have accurate, up-to-date condition information about machines and their components to effectively plan their maintenance or replacement. During routine maintenance outages, the longer downtime of the machine is used to perform a variety of inspections, off-line tests and measurements. An important aspect of these inspections is electrical
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testing, which assesses the quality of the insulation and reveals contact problems and other potential sources of error. Various electrical tests evaluate condition A variety of off-line electrical tests can be performed over the complete life cycle of rotating electrical machines to ensure their reliability, prevent premature failures and to extend service life. These diagnostic tests, including measurements of capacitance, dissipation factor/power factor, voltage withstand, partial discharge and impedance – among others, such as the electromagnetic imperfection test (also known as a stray flux
measurement) on stator cores – are performed after a machine has been manufactured, installed on-site and also during periodic maintenance checks to accurately assess its condition state.
Partial discharge testing on a generator with OMICRON’s MPD 800 system
The importance of partial discharge testing Partial discharges (PD) occur in the insulation system of rotating machines, where the local electric field stress exceeds the local electrical strength. It causes a progressive erosion of insulation materials that can lead to their failure. Compared with other dielectric tests on rotating machines, the differentiating character of PD measurements allows single weak points of the insulation system to be clearly identified. PD in rotating machines (e.g. slot discharges or end winding discharges) causes recognisable patterns. Through the pattern analysis, specific root causes can be identified, such as contamination, voids, cracks, ageing, or general deterioration of different insulation components. How does it work? Off-line PD measurements are performed when the machine is taken out of service and energised with a high-voltage source. A coupling capacitor is connected to the terminals of the machine, which is connected to the PD measurement device. Depending on whether the star point is accessible, a single-phase measurement can be done. Otherwise a three-phase measurement in combination with source separation techniques enables you to identify PD activity in a specific phase. Several measurements over time enable a trending of the insulation condition, which is the most powerful way to recognise a fault in its early stage. There are several relevant international standards that specify how to make PD measurements on rotating machines, such as IEC 60034-27.
Recommended diagnostic tools For effective condition assessments of rotating electrical machines, OMICRON offers the matching electrical testing or monitoring solution. Together, these diagnostic solutions provide users with a thorough condition assessment of rotating electrical machines to quickly identify potential problems and to assess the risk of failure. More information about electrical testing on rotating machine is available at: www.omicronenergy.com/machine-testing Electrical testing provides you with a reliable means of identifying potential problems in the stator windings of motors and generators used for a variety of applications.
Into the Li-ion’s den When it comes to electric vehicle batteries lithium-ion is king, but as up to the job as Li-ion may be, it doesn’t come without its risks. Richard Poate, senior manager at TÜV SÜD, a global product testing and certification organisation, gives us some potentially life saving tips on battery safety, maintenance and management that we should all be aware of. ccording to the International Energy Agency (IEA), in 2019 electric cars registered a 40% year-on-year increase in sales. It puts part of this growth in demand down to significant improvements in technology. For example, research from the IEA reveals that the 2018-19 versions of some common electric car models display a battery energy density that is 20-100% higher than their counterparts in 2012, with battery costs decreasing by more than 85% since 2010. The UK government is bringing forward a ban on the sale of new combustion engine cars from 2035 to 2030, in an effort to speed up widespread electric vehicle (EV) adoption. Vehicle manufacturers are therefore investing heavily in R&D to radically transform the way we drive, and battery development is at the heart of this process. Comparatively lightweight and long lasting with good performance, lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries have proven invaluable in electric vehicle
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development, but they carry with them potential safety hazards which must be managed. Also, while consumers are familiar with the traditional combustion engine, and therefore accept the well-known risks associated with fossil fuel-powered cars, there is still an element of distrust relating to relatively new and unfamiliar electric vehicle technologies. Improvements in design, materials, construction, and manufacturing processes means that the safety of Li-ion has dramatically improved. However, ensuring their safety and reliability requires thorough and accurate testing, which includes: • Life cycle testing: Verifies how long a battery lasts and demonstrates the quality of the battery. These tests include environmental cycle testing and calendar life testing. • Abuse testing: Simulates extreme environmental conditions and scenarios to test batteries beyond limits. • Performance testing: Demonstrates the efficiency of batteries, such as
performance testing under various climatic conditions. • Environmental and durability testing: Demonstrates the quality and reliability of a battery through tests including vibration, shock, EMC, thermal cycling, corrosion, dust, salt and humidity. • Dynamic impact tests: Simulates a real vehicle accident to determine the true safety performance of the battery when the car body is deformed. • Transportation tests: UN 38.3 is a series of tests to verify the robustness of batteries against conditions encountered in shipment. Battery designs Single battery cells typically come in three package styles, cylindrical, prismatic and pouch, and can be particularly sensitive to mishandling, inappropriate packaging, deformation and contamination. They can also fail due to overcharging and extreme temperatures. Repeated overcharging of a battery cell can create unwanted electrical paths, as well as short circuits that grow and create instability. High temperatures can drive excessive ionic flow which damages the crystalline structure of the cathode and can ignite electrolyte. Meanwhile, charging at low temperatures can lead to metallic plating, creating instability through short circuits.
Batteries used in electric vehicles present many electrical hazards, such as electric shock, arc flash burn, heatwave/ fire burns and explosion, which could include shrapnel and hot molten metal When these individual cells are connected in series/parallel combinations (depending on end-use requirements) the resulting modules deliver increased voltage and capacity. Although the individual cells are now mechanically ‘protected’, with a mechanical support/enclosure, care must be taken due the potentially high voltages and high currents presented. For electric vehicles, large battery packs connect to the vehicle’s electric powertrain. These packs are constructed by connecting modules together, adding sensors and a battery management system (BMS). They deliver an extremely high voltage and can be moulded to fit the host vehicle and may also form part of its structure. Safety tips for module and pack designs include: • Use physical partitions and fire breaks to minimise fire propagation. • Employ good thermal management. • Use pressure vents/relief mechanisms to safely deal with excessive pressures. • Utilise sensors and BMS to identify abnormal behaviours. • Use materials appropriate for foreseeable temperatures. • Use constructions with adequate mechanical strength appropriate for the real world. Battery management The BMS consists of both hardware and software elements, which contribute to vehicle safety and performance. The hardware generally includes current sensing capabilities for state of charge (SoC) estimation
and for safety. It must also detect leakage current faults, which could render the vehicle chassis ‘live’ and therefore highly dangerous, if not lethal. Effective fusing will also provide overcurrent protection. A precharge element should be incorporated to energise circuits via current limiting components to minimise inrush currents. Relays and contactors will also provide safe and reliable connection/disconnection to and from the vehicle. The software element of the BMS provides the interface and communications to the vehicle (CAN bus). The incorporation of diagnostics and health software monitors SoC (under/over charge), which is important for control, safety and vehicle range estimation. State-of-health functions will also determine battery degradation over time and predict end of usable life. The software delivers control over the battery’s function, including electrical isolation, thermal management, charge/discharge and cell balancing. 5G will also be a driver of smart battery maintenance, using ‘Data over the air’ and ‘Software over the air’. This means that real-time data can be used to optimise battery charging and discharging, and support predictive maintenance and failures, as well as remote troubleshooting. On the fly software updates will deal with battery ageing and extreme operating conditions, such as hot or cold environments. Risk management Batteries used in electric vehicles present many electrical hazards, such as electric shock, arc flash burn, heatwave/fire burns and explosion, which could include shrapnel and hot molten metal. Of course, because of the energy requirements to power electric vehicles, high voltage/high capacity battery packs are needed. Depending on the configuration, battery modules can be high voltage (>50Vdc), therefore presenting an electric shock and energy hazard, and vehicle battery packs will certainly present both. It is therefore essential that people working with high voltage systems are aware of the potential dangers and protective measures. This applies to all employees – mechanics and technicians, cleaning staff, office workers, and vehicle owners – anyone who might come into contact with the vehicles. So, this is a real game changer for the electric vehicle market. As the global demand for innovation in electric vehicles increases, so too does the need for qualified testing of lithium-ion batteries to power electric vehicles, and education about their use and care, will also continue to grow.
What is ‘end of life’ anyway?
A profound question at the best of times, but in this case, thankfully we’re referring to the batteries used in Tesla electric vehicles. Alex Johns, sales development manager at Altelium questions whether or not some batteries may be getting retired prematurely, and wonders, what does the ‘afterlife’ look like for a Tesla battery?
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arlier this year, Tesla, the world’s leading producer of electric vehicles, made a number of high-profile announcements on its 2020 Battery Day, including an outline of its recycling scheme for end of life batteries. But, one thing I felt was missing was what Tesla would be doing with those retired EV batteries before they’ve reached the end of their useful life. I have first-hand experience of the longevity and excellence of Tesla batteries and know they support the company’s goal to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. Five Tesla Model S 90D vehicles completed 1.5 million miles whilst stationed at Gatwick Airport when I was overseeing the trial of Tesla electric taxis there. They each drove approximately 300,000 miles during the three-year trial, yet still the batteries were at 82% State of Health (SoH). The Model S was initially offered with an unlimited mileage, eightyear warranty. However, that was reduced to a 150,000 miles, eight-year warranty and 70% State of Health (SoH) in 2017. This means Tesla will replace the battery in the recent Tesla Model S or X if it drops below the 252-mile range in under 150,000 miles and eight years. The fact the battery degrades faster in the first year or two is widely known. In the first year dropping about 8% in 100,000 miles during our trial, but after that, the degradation was almost a straight line of 5% per annum (100,000 miles per annum). At this rate, the vehicles would have easily passed 500,000 miles before they reached 70% SoH. This impressive performance is more than three times the warranted distance.
What counts as end of life? Tesla has announced a recycling scheme for its ‘end of life’ batteries but what counts as an ‘end of life’ battery? The consensus from other manufacturers looking at this question seems to be that a battery is still commercially useful if used carefully down to about 50% SoH. One important feature which affects the viability of a battery for second life use is a ‘knee point’. A knee point is when a battery undergoes a rapid degradation, something every battery and vehicle manufacturer is trying to avoid. The phenomenon is subject to a great deal of study. On the assumption that your battery is well manufactured (i.e. without faults), then knee points tend to occur if the battery is over stressed. This occurs through too much supercharging (which raises the battery temperature too much too often) and charging and discharging to the maximum too often. The probability of a knee point occurring gets too high for commercial reliability at below 50% SoH. That leaves a very wide band of life in the battery and begs the question, what is happening to the batteries (which have been removed from Tesla vehicles) between 70% and 50% SoH? Battery SoH (when properly measured) is an absolute measure and will become the currency of battery trading in the future. Although drivers of pure electric cars focus on State of Charge, because it tells them if they have enough power to get to their destination – linked to ‘range anxiety’ – the measure that really matters in economic terms is SoH. A battery at 70% SoH may no longer be suitable for use in an EV but it will be very useful in a ‘second life’ Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) for several years (usually at least five) until it reaches 50% SoH.
The battery afterlife The BESS market is a retired EV battery’s afterlife, and it is set to take off dramatically. The Australian Hornsdale Power Reserve, which boasts a power capacity of 150MW/194MWh, held the title of the world’s largest first life BESS for just three years before it was surpassed by the Californian Gateway Energy Storage in 2020 which has a storage capacity of 230MW/hour. In itself this is less than half the capacity of the new Tesla plant planned at Moss Landing in Monterey County, California, at 730 MWh. All of them, however, will be dwarfed by the size of the 1,500 MW/6,000 MWh installation which was given approval in October 2020, also in Moss Landing California, for Vistra Energy. It is Lithium-ion BESS which is revolutionising the energy market, allowing energy from renewable sources of wind, sun and waves to be stored. Most BESS’ are made using first life batteries, but an increasing amount are being made from ex-EV second life batteries. Tesla has told us how its batteries will last for one million miles or even longer (presumably to 70% SoH), but has made no mention yet of using second life batteries in BESS or any other second life use. So where are they going?
Battery SoH (State of Health) is an absolute measure and will become the currency of battery trading in the future The EV battery sweet spot The cost of second life batteries is so much lower than first life batteries that the Return on Investment (ROI) of second life batteries is higher in spite of the shorter lifespan of the second life BESS’. A battery at 75% SoH will last half the length of the time of a new battery but cost far less than half the amount to buy. This is exactly the sweet spot where the ‘missing’ Tesla batteries will be: not yet ready for complete recycling, but also no longer in cars on the road. Various companies (including Altelium) are already providing the information to enable vehicle manufacturers to pivot their batteries from EV to BESS applications. Advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and secure data sharing are making this possible. The more information we know about a battery, the higher its value. If we know what the battery has done all its life – its voltage parameters, temperature parameters and C rates – then we’re dealing with a known quantity. With this information it is possible to buy the battery with confidence, in the full knowledge that some fuel cells have failed or will fail, and when, and especially if, a battery has hit or will be about to hit the knee point. A new life When an EV reaches between seven and nine years old, its battery will typically become available for second life uses. It will not be long before a whole generation of EV batteries, including Teslas, are ready to make the leap to their next stage in life.
Flexible, fast, reliable deployment for new data centres Rittal has announced a brand-new modular system for installing data centres flexibly, reliably and fast - and it’s called RiMatrix Next Generation.
ased on an open-platform architecture, RiMatrix NG means customised solutions delivering future-proofed IT scenarios, can be implemented anywhere in the world. It is the first platform to support OCP direct current technology in standard environments, and is suitable for single rack or container solutions, centralised data centres, distributed edge data centres or highly scaled co-location, as well as cloud and hyperscale data centres. Change is a constant across today’s IT infrastructure, but digital transformation is creating innovation at a pace that has never been seen before and the pace will almost certainly continue to accelerate. This requires both rapid responses and long-term investment in data centres which are flexible enough to meet a myriad of new challenges. Rittal has responded with its new RiMatrix Next Generation (NG) IT infrastructure platform. “Right from the initial design phase, we thought ahead in terms of adapting to diverse and constantly evolving requirements when we were developing the open platform,” says Uwe Scharf, managing director, business units and marketing at Rittal.
The RiMatrix NG is the first platform to support the use of OCP components and direct current in standard environments “Our customers have to adapt their IT infrastructures to developments faster than ever before to ensure business-relevant products and services can be continually created at the highest possible speed and without faults. Our aim is to support them as their partner for the future.” The result is a pioneering, open platform for creating data centres of all sizes and scale, flexibly, reliably and fast, and one which supports comprehensive consulting and services throughout the entire IT lifecycle. Whether it’s single rack or container solutions, centralised data centres, distributed edge data centres or highly scaled colocation, cloud and hyperscale data centres, the modularity and backwards compatibility of RiMatrix NG mean that it’s possible to update individual components in
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an infrastructure, so the entire data centre can continually be adapted to meet fast-changing technological developments. “RiMatrix NG thus becomes an IT infrastructure platform that is extremely future-safe and flexible,” Scharf explains. All IT infrastructure components in a single modular system The RiMatrix NG modules cover five functional areas: racks, climate control, power supply and backup, and finally IT monitoring and security. This enables IT managers to quickly and easily create solutions that are tailored to their individual requirements. The number of potential combinations offered by Rittal and its certified partners (e.g. for energy supplies or fire safety) means that users can both meet their own needs, and any stipulated local regulations, wherever they are based across the world. RiMatrix NG offers users the same flexibility as Rittal’s other modular systems, both through the new and updated racks, as well as other, older generation models. This makes the platform scalable in terms of size, performance, security and fail-safe reliability. If a particularly fast response time is required, or existing buildings do not offer sufficient space, then the data centre can be placed within a container and safely integrated into any existing IT infrastructures. First platform for OCP technology The RiMatrix NG is the first platform to support the use of OCP components and direct current in standard environments. Highly standardised, direct-current architectures and 21in racks in the Open Compute Project (OCP) design are increasingly becoming recognised as the most energy-efficient choice for hyperscale data centres. “Rittal is both a driver of the OCP initiative and a top supplier of OCP racks for hyperscalers worldwide,” Scharf says. “With the RiMatrix NG, we are the first supplier to enable the straightforward use of OCP technology in standard data centres.” Data centre operators can use RiMatrix NG modules and its accessories in an existing, rapidly changing architecture without switching the entire data centre or changing the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to direct current. “In this way, we now provide all our customers with easy access to the energy and efficiency benefits of this technology for the future – even for individual applications,” Scharf explains.
IT climate control IT systems installed in RiMatrix NG are cooled in a controlled cycle using tailored and fail-safe fan systems, refrigerant-based or water-based solutions, and their performance is continually monitored. The cooling solutions can be tailored to each and every system, from single racks, suite and room climate control, right up to complex high-performance computing (HPC) using direct chip cooling (DCC). IT power supply and backup Rittal’s ‘Continuous Power & Cooling’ concept is a way of bridging shortterm power failures to prevent damage to both active IT components and other parts of the infrastructure, including the climate control. It offers protection across the full length of the energy supply, from the main in-feed, UPS systems and sub-distribution, to the smart socket systems (power distribution units) in the IT racks. IT monitoring and safety The RiMatrix NG platform supports monitoring solutions such as the Computer Multi-Control III (CMC III) monitoring system and the Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software. This includes various sensor options measuring humidity, temperature and differential pressure, as well as vandalism. Users can also choose from a range of protective measures depending on their needs, for example a basic protection room within a modular room-inroom solution, or a high availability room for even greater reliability. The platform’s safety is certified under ECB S rules from the European Certification Body GmbH (ECB).
Rapid project implementation RiMatrix NG was designed in such a way that new data centres can be rapidly installed. Components can be quickly and easily laid out using the web-based Rittal Configuration System and there is also Rittal’s unique 24/48-hour delivery window for standard products in Europe. The platform’s international ratings not only ensure its reliability, they further speed-up IT project installations because they eliminate the need for time-consuming permit and test procedures.
The modularity and backwards compatibility of RiMatrix NG mean that it’s possible to update individual components in an infrastructure Consulting throughout the entire IT lifecycle In addition to the system components, Rittal’s customers are given all the support they need for set-up and operation. And this support continues across the entire IT lifecycle of a data centre. The company’s service portfolio includes design consultation, planning and configuration, as well as assistance with operations and optimisation. Flexible financing models, including leasing, round-off its portfolio and enable needs-oriented investment.
Get primed for PoE In 2021 and beyond, we will be relying on technology more than ever before. Here, Dwight Stewart, founder and CTO at Igor, explores various PoE use cases for smart buildings that could not only improve the health and wellbeing of those occupying the buildings concerned, but provide various sectors, as well as electricians, the competitive edge they need to stay relevant in an ever-evolving world.
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pping the ‘intelligence’ of physical spaces is expected to accelerate quickly in a post-pandemic world. Whether building owners are looking to improve the experiences of employees, patients, students or consumers, empowering people to feel both safe and seen will be the foundation for many of their strategic decisions. For electrical professionals to remain relevant and competitive in this environment, it will be important to offer immediately deployable solutions that inspire confidence in the client, as well as the client’s often vast network of influencers. Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) cabling is gaining traction as one such solution. Once a niche technology deployed only by bleeding-edge innovators, PoE is rapidly gaining market acceptance in the mainstream. As the construction market responds to increasing pressure from clients to reduce costs, decrease environmental impact and leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) for a myriad of benefits, the low-voltage approach has gained favour with professionals on both sides of the client-contractor relationship. Electricians are also getting in the game. As James Dawson, principal of consulting, design and project management firm TM Technology Partners (TMT), noted, it’s a must if they want to continue serving an evolving clientele. “Clients are looking at the costs as compared to traditional line voltage projects, and they’re finding they can implement a PoE-based solution at about the same cost as a traditional project and have so much more upside in terms of control and data,” commented Dawson. The New York City-based firm’s first introduction to the technology came through presentations from lighting manufacturers who were interested in working with the company’s east and west coast US clients. “We walk a fine line when it comes to emerging technology,” said Dawson. “Our clients expect us to be on the forefront of technology; they also expect us to present feasible solutions. So, we kept a watchful eye on PoE, followed its progression and then got to work with it on a large lighting job. Since that time, we’ve completed another dozen or so PoE jobs, and we’ve become believers. Beyond the cost, control and data benefits, clients are also utilising the technology to implement a greater number of IoT solutions, such as wayfinding and asset tracking.”
Ready to go Four market sectors are set for immediate PoE innovation within their spaces: office, hospitality, healthcare and education. Each of these verticals is confronting rapidly changing market realities, while also being charged with protecting vulnerable populations from a continuing pandemic. Office and hospitality spaces are hosting people with jobs to do who also have ongoing concerns about Covid-19. Healthcare and education spaces must accommodate the very sick and the very young, not to mention the caregivers and teachers they depend on. Beyond the near-term need to calm the fears of people in their spaces, the facility managers and building owners within these four verticals are also looking ahead to the ‘new normal.’ They are anticipating significant changes in the demands and preferences of a post-pandemic stakeholder, and are working to get in position now to meet those expectations as quickly as possible.
Here are a few of the possibilities PoE opens up for each of the four markets and the electrical professionals who serve them: Employers bring remote workers back: Compete for talent Data is expected to be an important piece of the return-to-work strategy. Smart buildings, equipped with PoE-connected sensors such as people counters and occupancy detectors, will help employers provide real-time tracking of employee locations, as well as provide a comprehensive data trail of their efforts to maintain social distancing among workers. In addition, office spaces equipped with IoT controls will be in an ideal position to offer hyper-personalised experiences to in-demand executives and their teams. As new workspace trends emerge, being able to offer things like customisable office hoteling and hot-desking will up an employer’s competitive position in the ongoing battle for talent. Being intentional about integrating technology that provides a calming, relaxed environment, such as intelligent lighting systems, will be especially important for an incoming generation of employees. Researchers anticipate exposure to Covid-19-related stress during their formative years will have a lasting impact on Gen Z – one that employers will need to monitor and manage too.
Clients are looking at the costs as compared to traditional line voltage projects, and they’re finding they can implement a PoE-based solution at about the same cost as a traditional project, and have so much more upside in terms of control and data Hotels layer cleaning approaches: Carve out differentiation In some areas of the world, travel is beginning to pick up. For both business and leisure travellers, confidence in the cleanliness of a hotel’s spaces will be even more important than in years past. Similar to the possibilities a PoE-powered digital ceiling opens up for the office environment, hotels can take advantage of the technology’s controls and automation to layer new cleaning methods, such as UV-C intelligent lighting disinfection, on top of traditional ones. To compete for a larger portion of the traveling public’s business, hotels will also need to accelerate plans for achieving competitive differentiation. The same digital ceiling that enables cleaning automation can enable customisation of environmental settings for the traveller, triggered to deploy upon check-in or when the guest dictates via engagement with the hotel’s mobile app. A Covid-era study revealed that 80% of hotel guests would download a hotel app that would enable them to check in, check out and get all information about the hotel. Extending the capabilities of such an app is possible with PoE, enabling guest control of things like personalised room temperature, lighting
members fall into the digital-native category, the expectation for seamless connections, personalised experiences and self-service will naturally grow. When equipped with PoE, these facilities can easily enable devices and sensors to talk to one another and to the humans relying on them to monitor the health and wellness of the seniors occupying those spaces. Sensors watching for movement or listening for heartbeats can unobtrusively monitor health and safety from afar, giving residents a greater sense of privacy without sacrificing necessary attention. Enhanced security in schools and real-time environmental changes PoE-powered lighting, in particular, can enhance the security and enjoyment of time spent inside schools, colleges and universities in a surprising number of ways. Storm and fire warnings accelerate evacuation during emergencies, and when connected with communication systems, also expedite distress calls to authorities. User-friendly controls can also make switching from instructional overhead lighting to ambient lighting when teachers engage AV systems, smartboards and other screen-based platforms. This is especially important as teachers navigate a hybrid model in which students are learning in-person and online at the same time. Lighting can make or break a remote-learning session; being able to adjust in real-time to an online learner’s request can greatly improve both the student and teacher’s experience.
options and window shade settings, even customised TV, sound system or digital security safe access. Improvements to senior living According to Senior Housing News, 87% of senior living facilities said they expect their organisations to increase their technology budgets in 2021, spending more on items such as resident monitoring, contact tracing, telehealth and virtual tours. While much of this is related to the pandemic’s impact, a great deal is also simply to address changing expectations among residents and family members. Enabling meaningful visits with family and friends while practicing Covid-19 safe behaviours has been challenging for even the most technically savvy senior living facilities. PoE-enabled facilities can take advantage of a range of new and emerging technologies to improve these visits, both remote and in-person. Allowing visitor scheduling systems to connect with access points and wayfinding beacons, for instance, can keep visitors in their assigned spaces without feeling confined or restricted. Residents can move through the facility with confidence and within social distancing requirements. Artificial intelligence-enabled camera systems and real-time location systems can help staff maintain high levels of attention without breaking with pandemic-related restrictions. The benefits of powering such devices with PoE include both control and data. PoE allows devices to talk with one another, as well as to data tracking and visualisation tools. The other element to consider when pitching technology to this vertical is the decision-maker stakeholder segment. As more individuals making long-term care decisions for ageing family
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Much of the marketplace acceptance has to do with a significant shift in the mindset of influential electrical contractors. Rather than view PoE as a competitive threat, they now see it as an opportunity to diversify their skill set and offerings PoE is progress PoE can be added to an existing building to transform traditional spaces into smart spaces. However, increasingly, our technologists are being asked to partner with GCs and designers on new construction projects at the project’s outset. The marketplace is beginning to see PoE as they do an I-beam structure. Just as steel provides for longterm durability and strength, PoE future-proofs a building against power and data innovation. Much of the marketplace acceptance has to do with a significant shift in the mindset of influential electrical contractors. Rather than view PoE as a competitive threat, they now see it as an opportunity to diversify their skill set and offerings. “I anticipate more electrical firms will expand into PoE,” TMT’s Dawson recently told me. “They’ve done it with low voltage. Progress is progress. There’s enough traction with this technology. It’s not going anywhere.”
Actual intelligence Artificial intelligence is key to creating a truly smart building, as explained by professor Michael Krödel, CEO, Institute of Building Technology, Ottobrunn, Germany and professor for Building Automation and Technology, University of Applied Sciences at Rosenheim, alongside Graham Martin chairman and CEO, EnOcean Alliance. oday’s building automation systems operate ‘statically’ in response to fixed time programs or simple control parameters. For example, room temperature control is based on a preset temperature that is the same throughout the day. This is not truly ‘intelligent.’ The new dimension that AI can add into the building automation environment is to use autonomous analysis of the data as a basis for optimised operation. Thus the heating and cooling dynamic of rooms, weather forecasts, predicted room occupancy during the course of the day can all be factored into the operation of the heating. All this - and much more - is possible when data on building system status and conditions is intelligently evaluated, which requires intensive processing of large amounts of data. AI offers many new, tailor-made solutions which are exceptionally suited to efficient building management. The term AI is increasingly associated with buildings and building automation. The question is: what is it, where do its tangible benefits lie in this field, and how does the building infrastructure need to be adapted to realise those benefits?
The first step in any AI process is system learning. This can take three forms: Unsupervised Learning, Supervised Learning, Reinforcement Learning The different ‘smart buildings’ Initially, building automation was comparatively un-intelligent. Systems were programmed to follow a set of simple rules, allowing for quick system start-up and subsequent ease of maintenance. The smart building typically builds on this classic building automation with flexible IT-based management systems. These offer unrestricted programming using modern IT languages and tools, easy integration with other IT systems, such as workspace/room reservation systems or data banks, and data visualisation for facility managers and for ordinary users. The growing assimilation of sensor-generated data into the IT-based management level opens the way for more advanced data processing solutions to come into play – such as AI tools. This is the pre-condition for the implementation of any prognosis-based form of building management. The sophisticated processing of sensor-generated data makes the smart building into a ‘cognitive building’
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AI-learning process The first step in any AI process is system learning. This can take three forms: • Unsupervised Learning • Supervised Learning • Reinforcement Learning Unsupervised Learning is used when large quantities of data must be processed and categorised. This grouping enables the recognition of deviations from norms and interdependencies. Supervised Learning often makes use of neural networks. They consist of entry and exit nodes, as well as further nodes in the intermediate layers. Mathematically weighted relationships exist between the diverse nodes (neurons). In order to optimise these relationships, the neural network is subjected to a training phase with known input and output patterns. Another form of AI is represented by processes that autonomously determine which actions are appropriate in a given situation. They emulate human behaviour whereby different solutions are tried in order to determine the best way forwards in a hitherto unknown situation, and conclusions drawn retrospectively. The learning task becomes more challenging when feedback is given much later and hinges upon events in the relatively distant past. This is true in a human context, and equally true in computer environments. The best-known example in this category is Reinforcement Learning. It can be seen that these three approaches are complementary. The learning method should be chosen depending on the task in hand – each has its merits. Concrete applications Many diverse AI-based applications are available in the field of building automation. They can be broadly categorised as follows: • Optimised facility management: Needs-based control of heating plants, circulating pumps, lighting etc. (as opposed to control on the basis of simple parameters or by timer). • Optimised utilisation of spaces and infrastructure: Capacity analysis and forecasting, e.g. for meeting rooms, canteens, pantries, transit areas, toilets and parking spaces, as well as the provision of information in the short term (for building occupants) and in the long term (for facility managers, e.g. in form of advice on building restructuring). • Load management: Forward-looking operation of electrical systems in order to avoid (costly) peak loads. • Precautionary maintenance and optimised servicing: Analysis of failure probability, timely maintenance and consequential avoidance of technical failures. • Employee-oriented value added services: Mobile devices can – for
instance – be used to generate space utilisation forecasts, view canteen usage intensity, request parking space availability and preferred workspace location or select individual meals. • Compensation of skilled-staff shortages: Making effective use of facility maintenance staff in managing the building’s technical systems. • Focus on meaningful sensor data: Generate as much data as possible from as few sensors as possible – reducing redundancy, cutting investment and operating costs.
agement system). The BMS must be able to govern the building facility and room automation systems.
Wiring sufficient sensors into an established building is hugely expensive – and even if it were done would create an inflexible architecture that couldn’t be adapted
Demands on building infrastructure The AI platform requires a rich set of data from a variety of sensors around the building to operate effectively. Cognitive buildings store and analyse historical sensor data to make predictions for the future. For this reason, such buildings are even more critically dependent on the data inputs they receive for their success. They need to be equipped throughout with IoT sensor devices that make the algorithms fully aware of every aspect of their operation. The richer the data, the more intelligent the response of the AI. Wiring sufficient sensors into an established building is hugely expensive – and even if it were done would create an inflexible architecture that couldn’t be adapted. The only effective solution is battery- and maintenance- free energy harvesting sensors that can be fitted in a moment and moved at will.
Demands upon system architecture An AI platform is indispensable for the introduction of intelligent learning processes such as those described above. This can be either cloudbased or server-based. Cloud-based server farms offer more processing power, and cloud-based AI frameworks offer a broader range of features, so this currently represents common practice. The AI platform is built on a smart building infrastructure, and all technical systems should ideally be connected to a BMS (building man-
Conclusions AI-based processes enable a broad range of applications in the field of building automation. The concrete benefits anticipated from AIbased solutions should be clearly defined before implementation, since this plays a determining role in the choice of learning process and its modelling, as well as in the choice of AI platform and the type, number and location of the energy harvesting sensors needed to supply the data inputs.
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Cloud and clear The smart building revolution is coming, but key to its adoption will be ensuring that the cloud technology behind any building is sufficiently secure. Priva’s general manager for UK & Ireland, Gavin Holvey, examines the robust security measures that now underpin cloud platforms, and the scope these services provide for future expansion.
he events of the last 10 months have reminded us all that the future is very much subject to change. But with its inherent ability to adapt to and protect a company’s most important assets outside of its people, migrating building management and operations to the cloud remains a necessary – and sound – investment. This switch to the cloud will help to deliver on the ‘smart building revolution’; buildings become easier to operate and maintain in terms of resource optimisation, ease of management, and access to upgrades and maintenance. Simply put, companies who shift some or all of their IT
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activities to the cloud can dramatically reduce the cost requirements of having their own storage and processing systems – not to mention the often sizable rack-rooms they occupy. But these are by no means the only benefits, as the mature cloud services available today can also offer significant advantages in terms of security and future expansion. However, some old concerns about the cloud still remain despite its recent growth. Anyone who has paid even passing attention to technology issues over the last few years will be aware of the increasing threat of cyberattack.
In the earlier days of the cloud, there was a suspicion in some quarters that remote data storage was somehow less secure than having everything located on-site. Always a dubious contention given the widely varying security set-ups in different firms, it’s now entirely without foundation as the leading cloud platforms have consistently invested huge sums in security. Cybercrime is a moving target Cloud services have attained maturity and the vast majority of their providers now offer support that is second to none. Ongoing updates and regular stress-testing have also delivered formidable levels of security to cloud services. For example, here at Priva, our own cloud services are based on one of the world’s leading platforms, Azure by Microsoft. Leading banking and legal organisations – for whom data integrity is an absolute top priority – are among those to have adopted Azure, which relies on a cloud built with customised hardware. It also has security controls integrated into both hardware and firmware, and features added protection against threats such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDos) – in other words, a calculated attempt to disrupt the normal traffic of a server or network. Internet security is the very definition of a moving target given that new threats are coming up all the time. Recent data released by cyber education company, Cyberint, indicates that SMEs are being widely targeted, with 43% of all cyber attacks directed towards small businesses. This has potentially serious implications for companies whose core data
operations are in the hands of a small in-house IT team or occasional help from outside contractors. As the diversity of attacks increases, it will become even more difficult to keep on top of all the cyber-threats. In this context it is even more logical to shift responsibility to a service based on a cloud technology such as Microsoft Azure, which is supported by a global team of more than 3,500 cybersecurity experts focused on safeguarding business assets and data. In this way, a cloud-based solution offers a very specific form of future-proofing. Above all, it makes it much easier to scale your IT usage as your needs change.
Cloud services have attained maturity and the vast majority of their providers now offer support that is second to none Post-pandemic predictions Looking forward to a post-Covid world, our observation is that the future is likely to bring more home and/or remote working, and the need for premises to be reconfigured or redeployed more rapidly in response to changing requirements. It’s clear that the adoption of cloud-based BMS packages is set to be especially pronounced.
Better together Vanti, a Beckhoff integration partner, seeks to change the way the property and construction industries think about designing, deploying, maintaining and optimising technology in the built environment. It’s doing this through the Smart Core Foundation.
he past decade has seen technology in buildings take huge leaps forward, resulting in more efficient spaces through connected systems. However, these connections are typically made in a point-to-point fashion, making changing or upgrading systems difficult and expensive. These deployments can’t easily facilitate data extraction or analysis either and certainly don’t support industry demands for self-optimising buildings enabled by machine learning. A smart building, in its truest sense, should be designed around its occupants, using technology to deliver useful and consistent experiences, as well as spatial and energy efficiencies. The systems that exist in buildings are nearly all now comprised of IT components and are network-based, meaning the potential already exists to integrate them and their devices with one another, in standardised ways. This unlocks the ability to create the experiences the next generation of building users expect. Huge financial and energy efficiencies can also be realised by re-thinking how technology is installed and commissioned into buildings. Beckhoff ’s open automation systems are based on PC control technology, incorporating industrial PCs, I/O and fieldbus components, and automation software. These are products that can be used as separate components or integrated into a complete and seamless control platform. The Beckhoff ‘New Automation Technology’ philosophy represents
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universal and open control and automation solutions that are used worldwide in a wide variety of different applications. Beckhoff ’s solution providers can design, manufacture, install, program, commission and maintain a wide range of control solutions for industrial automation applications and building management using Beckhoff hardware and other complementary technologies. Vanti is an international award-winning master systems integrator that designs and builds ambitious audio-visual, IT, smart building and workplace systems across the world. Adopting a unique approach that puts people first, Vanti’s innovative technology delivers tangible outcomes, saving its clients significant amounts of money on the operation and maintenance costs of their technology estates. Potential for change So how should we approach a smart building project? By beginning with the end in mind we can take into account who is going to be using the building and what they are going to be doing there. According to the UK Green Building Council, 80% of the buildings that will exist in 2050 have already been built. Building projects today can be divided into five main ‘Smart’ sectors. For the end-user, they must consider carefully what they are buying, what they want the building to do for them, as well as the potential for future change in use.
Silo; Systems deployed in isolation with no control or analytics. Smart silo; Systems deployed in isolation with the ability to control their own behaviour and look at their own data, e.g. a closed lighting system that can be controlled and may generate a limited data set for analysis. Smart building – data; Building systems are still deployed in isolation with integration between them achieving data extraction, facilitating collection of data and viewing analytics in a central location, potentially cloud based. Smart building – experience; Building UX (‘User Experience’) defines the technology experience. Systems are selected for their utility and contribution to the vision. Integration achieves two-way communication, facilitating unified in-building and mobile app control as well as centralised analytics. Smart building; Building UX defines the technology experience; devices are selected for their utility and contribution to the vision. Integration achieves two-way communication, facilitating unified in-building and mobile app control as well as centralised analytics. Multi-protocol area controllers communicate with a single orchestration layer providing one building interface. Components are designed to be easily upgradeable over time. By grouping functionality and building systems we can facilitate smaller, more focused conversations during the design and construction phase. There are lots of efficiencies to be gained if we begin to restructure how we procure our buildings. Vanti’s belief is that if more thought is given to how people use a building, and the potential improvements to technology and working style are taken into consideration, then time and money can be saved on adapting the building in the future. Our industry is gradually coming to realise that while a building is built to stand for 50+ years, the technology
systems within it will nearly all be refreshed on three to 10-year cycles. Mike Brooman, CEO at Vanti, says, “We see huge risks for building owners and operators locked in to poorly executed projects and proprietary products, both with associated long-running contracts. As such, the Smart Core Foundation develops approaches to achieving genuinely open building technology interoperability to ensure these expensive assets deliver exceptional user experiences through their entire lifecycle – from concept to demolition.” Mike also believes flexibility is the key to Smart Core’s long-term potential, explaining, “Smart Core offers a building technology platform and framework designed to standardise the approach people take to integrating systems and make it much more sustainable for the future. After Smart Core has been deployed, clients with the requisite skills can continue to make changes as and when required.”
A smart building, in its truest sense, should be designed around its occupants, using technology to deliver useful and consistent experiences Quick and consistent The Smart Core Building OS is an operating system (like Microsoft Windows or Apple’s MacOS) specifically designed for buildings. It promotes a distributed architecture, an abstraction layer and common tools through which to deploy applications offering specific functionality to people who use or need to maintain physical spaces. The focus of the OS is to enable integrations to happen quickly and consistently rather than offering libraries of pre-built and potentially unsuitable drivers. A number of sectors have the potential to benefit from Smart Core, including commercial, hospitality, education and residential. For example, it can enable residents of multi-dwelling units and private residential schemes to benefit from the multi-site efficiencies that can be achieved with these types of homes. Having a great place to live also maximises resident retention for landlords. Mike Brooman adds, “We strongly believe that by establishing a community of people using Smart Core patterns and software we’ll be able to source more ideas to improve them and get closer to the goal of having a standardised approach to the integration of building technology. Getting to this point will benefit everyone involved in these industries as it will allow us to all speak the same language during design, construction and operation, working better together.” The work produced by the Smart Core Foundation will be freely available to those who wish to use it under Creative Commons licensing, and anyone making enhancements to it also has to release their work under the same terms. Mike concludes, “Beckhoff products make an ideal platform for Smart Core, also allowing other software to be incorporated into the same physical system. Our early access programme has now launched and we’re getting a small number of people in to review documentation and code before we publish publicly. We’ve had our first device manufacturer interested in embedding Smart Core in their controllers natively, and people can register their interest in working with us at www.smart-core.tech.”
A new approach Anja Langer Jacquin, chief commercial officer at depsys, looks at the lessons the pandemic has taught us so far for running distribution grids both during lockdown, in the short-term aftermath, and for the long-term future. ovid-19 has been a seismic event in so many areas of society, and power distribution grids are no exception. At the height of the virus, societies have been eerily quiet in terms of economic activity. Factories went dormant, shops shuttered, and offices remained empty as people stayed home to stop the spread. As you would expect, this had implications for distribution system operators (DSOs) needing to find a new balance of electricity, production, and consumption – but the most serious threats weren’t necessarily the most obvious ones. Yes, loads on the grid changed, forcing DSOs to adapt. They were quite easily able to though. The challenge was new areas of increased demand
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such as temporary hospitals and other critical locations. Grids weren’t planned with these in mind, and DSOs had to keep supply constant and at high quality. However, DSOs often had to rely on old analogue assets that generated no performance data – to ensure they were up to scratch meant manual inspection. Which brings us to the bigger but less obvious challenge: people. For a long time, the utility sector has depended on the accumulated knowledge and experience of an aging workforce. However, the virus required DSOs to minimise employees in control centres and engineers in the field – especially given increased risk for older workers. There is not a lot of spare capacity in the typical DSO workforce, and perhaps the biggest
threat to grid stability was that too many key personnel were removed from the workforce during lockdown. As such, the inability to monitor and control assets remotely emerged as a major pandemic risk.
Second wave or not, eventually the pandemic will pass. The challenge then is to figure out what such a seismic event means for the future of distribution networks Re-opening and re-emerging During the period of the first wave and the second wave, DSOs were given a narrow window of time in which to both recover and prepare for further turmoil. At the time they asked themselves some key questions: • What went well and what could have gone better? • What can we do/put in place to be better prepared for future crises? • Which new practices and processes have emerged that we should have been doing anyway? The answers will vary for each DSO, but we can make one high level observation. Broadly, there are two ways to prepare for a potential second wave or another crisis. One is traditional grid reinforcement: based on observations from the pandemic, utilities can upgrade transformers, add new cables etc. The problem is, this is a long and expensive approach to take precisely when time and money may be in short supply. The second approach is digital. Greater real-time insight and control over grid performance enables DSOs to better respond to future difficulties and more intelligently plan investments. Compared to physical
upgrades, digital investments can be transformative in a very short time and for a typically lower cost. Looking ahead to the long-term Second wave or not, eventually the pandemic will pass. The challenge then is to figure out what such a seismic event means for the future of distribution networks. One possible effect is that there will be less public funding available, with governments indebted due to their responses to the pandemic. This may end the traditional ‘better safe than sorry’ approach of investing in expensive physical infrastructure upgrades when networks reach capacity. In the future, tighter budgets may mean greater emphasis on sweating assets and only making large physical investments when absolutely necessary. To do that, DSOs need greater insight into grid performance at a granular level, which means digitalisation and the collection of real, hard data. Though digitalisation itself requires investment, it is orders of magnitude less than physical infrastructure and can give DSOs confidence that they are getting the most out of every pound and euro. Digitalisation also enables more remote working, which doesn’t just protect people during the pandemic, but saves money and satisfies what may turn out to be a widespread shift to more remote working across societies after the pandemic. At the same time, Covid-19 could change how people think about energy entirely. Governments are pushing for smart solutions to ensure we re-power up the economy based on sustainable energy solutions. We may see more microgrids and distributed resources as a response. DSOs will be called upon to invest to adapt, and digitalisation will give them the insight to de-risk those investments and increase return. The trend towards smart grids was already well underway, but the pandemic has underlined both the wisdom and urgency of that evolution. The enduring lesson of the pandemic for DSOs is that fast, smart and efficient decisions depend on deep, broad and accurate data.
A closer look at Amendment 2 of the 18th Edition Commenting on possibly some of the most significant revisions yet, Gary Parker, ECA technical manager, highlights some of the proposed changes to the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations.
The 18th Edition so far The IET Wiring Regulations, the essential publication for all professionals in the electrotechnical and engineering services sector, underwent an overhaul when the 18th Edition (BS 7671:2018) came into full effect in 2019.
Given the increasing speed of technological change, the Regulations must reflect these changes to ensure installations are safe, efficient, useful, and able to meet evolving standards Amendment 1, which concerns electric vehicle charge points, came into effect on 1 February 2020. Now, BSI is seeking views on a new set of changes to the 18th Edition – Amendment 2 (AMD 2) – which could
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represent the biggest set of revisions to the Regulations yet. Why now? The rationale for Amendment 2 is similar to that behind the original 18th Edition: given the way our industry operates, the roles electrical engineers serve, and the increasing speed of technological change, the Regulations must reflect these changes to ensure installations are safe, efficient, useful, and able to meet evolving standards. Next steps The second Amendment to the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations (BS 7671:2018) was opened as a Draft for Public Comment (DPC) from 21 September to 11 December 2020. The DPC is now being reviewed before a final version is decided upon in the coming months. In previous years, ECA Member comments have been directly responsible for improving the Regulations and ensuring that BS 7671 remains a practical and workable document, to the benefit of both customers and contractors.
Key potential changes: Mandating of AFDDs on circuits with a rated current not exceeding 32 A • The proposal: Regulation 421.1.7 proposes that arc fault detection devices (AFDDs) be required on all single-phase final circuits supplying socket-outlets and fixed current-using equipment. Some exceptions to this are listed. • The impact: This proposal would effectively mandate the use of AFDDs across all small, single phase circuits, whether in a domestic, commercial or industrial installation, increasing the potential for safety but also the prospect of greatly increasing cost and complexity of installations. Risk assessment for sockets • The proposal: Regulation 411.3.3 would be altered to remove the option for omitting RCDs on socket outlets not exceeding 32 A in installations other than dwellings. • The impact: This proposal would leave designers with no option but to install RCDs on all socket outlets – unless they raise a departure against BS 7671. However, this is something the client may not be content with. Less paperwork for EICs • The proposal: To reduce the number of items on the schedule of inspections for an electrical installation certificate. • The impact: The number of boxes would be reduced to 13 items, greatly reducing the time needed to complete an EIC. A list of items that should be inspected (where relevant) is available, but this does not need to be completed. New cut-off date for complying with the 18th Edition • The proposal: To state a date that, after which, all installations should be installed to the 18th Edition AMD 2 – regardless of when the design took place. • The impact: If an installation is undertaken after 28 March 2023 then this would need to conform to the requirements of the 18th Edition AMD 2 regardless of when it was designed. This could impact contractors working on contracts which take some years to come to fruition. Energy efficiency and prosumers • The proposal: A new Part 8 would be added for prosumer’s low-voltage electrical installations. • The impact: This proposal highlights some of the additional requirements designers and installers should be aware of when working on newer installations that can generate their own energy supply. SPD requirements • The proposal: To re-write the wording in section 443, transient overvoltages due to the effects of indirect lightning strokes, to make this element easier to read. • The impact: Potentially reducing the number of mandatory SPDs required in installations, however the wording should be closely read to ensure compliance. Foundation earthing • The proposal: Regulation 522.214.171.124 would require that for new premises, additional earthing, such as foundation earthing, shall be provided. • The impact: Every new build would need to be provided with a means of embedding electrodes to supplement the earthing system. This will require the use of electrodes or foundation earthing, in many cases at times when electrical contractors are not on site. Protected areas • The proposal: The requirements of Section 422 would be dramatically re-written to introduce the phrase, ‘protected escape route’. • Th e impact: Removing the conditions BD2, BD3 and BD4 and using the term ‘protected escape route’ would introduce requirements for designers and installers to consider how they install circuits in areas of escape and what types of equipment can be installed.
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Ovia adds linear batten LED lights to Inceptor range New from Ovia is Inceptor B-Lite – a range of 4ft, 5ft and 6ft linear batten multi-current LED fittings, available in standard, microwave sensor, emergency sensor and microwave & emergency sensor versions. They are a direct replacement for conventional battens and boast many features. Safety, speed and ease of installation have been given top priority. A security wire, pre-attached to the base of the product, allows the diffuser to be hung from the base and means the installer doesn’t have to remove the cover and place it aside during installation. The diffuser can be easily pulled apart from the steel base with the help of spring clips, allowing for quicker and easier installation. The Inceptor B-Lite comes with a five-year warranty and can be found in the new Ovia Issue 2 catalogue which can be downloaded from the Ovia website.
Ovia • 01827 300640 www.oviauk.com
EMKA provides new locking solutions guidance for switch and control cabinet industrial sectors EMKA has recently enhanced its online guidance for varying industrial sectors as an aid to specialist enclosure manufacturers. Therefore, EMKA is pleased to offer robust mechanical and advanced electronic locking systems for switch and control cabinets to provide a high level of protection against unwanted access. Individual cabinets and enclosures, double door and suited cabinets normally demand sealing up to IP65 with lay on or insert doors and EMKA is aware that this requires the use of round or flat rod systems to offer single, double triple or even five-way locking. EMKA engineers are proud to offer systems which are quickly fitted in production with adjustable length rods, clip on rod guides and lock mounted actuator mechanisms coupled to handles and escutcheons with low external profile and extra security options such as double locks, padlockable variants and extra narrow lift handles.
EMKA • 024 7661 6505 www.emka.com
Scolmore gets serious in the smart home market
RelaySimTest 3.30 available from OMICRON
Scolmore Group has developed a brand new and comprehensive range of smart products under the Click Smart+ brand that takes its provision of smart home solutions to a whole new level. Designed to simplify and streamline connected home products, the Click Smart+ range utilises Zigbee technology – one of the most widely adopted smart home technologies. Zigbee certified devices require the Click Smart+ Hub and communicate with each other using a mesh network which creates multiple pathways for the connection of multiple smart home devices without compromising signal and communication range. A key benefit of Zigbee and the new Click Smart+ range is that there is no requirement for a signal repeater, as all the devices have repeaters built in. Scolmore’s Click Smart+ range will assist installers looking to boost their business with an enhanced smart home offer that will deliver a complete connected home experience to householders.
RelaySimTest is a software solution for system-based protection testing with OMICRON test equipment that takes a novel, future-oriented approach: the test is independent of relay type and relay manufacturer and the often very extensive parameter settings. Instead, it completely focuses on the correct behaviour of the protection system. This is made possible by simulating realistic events in the power system. The new RelaySimTest 3.30 offers various new features and improvements: • Significantly reduced effort to setup a test document for testing recloser controls • In-depth testing of autotransformer protection systems through improvements in the simulation model – a new three-winding autotransformer model is also available now • Power system editor improvements with new grouping functions • New reporting engine for direct exports to Microsoft Word. You can download the new software version in our Customer Portal (for registered users) via https://my.omicronenergy.com/
Scolmore • 01827 63454 www.click-smart.com/home
ESP develops its contactless door access range The latest addition to ESP’s Aperta range of access control products is an infrared contactless exit button, which offers a hygienic solution to unlocking doors when combined with a door access system. Rather than relying on access cards, lanyards and buttons, users can exit a building simply by waving their hand over the touchless sensors. The contactless exit button can be used in conjunction with ESP’s entire Aperta door access range including video door entry, audio, multiway, Wi-Fi and the EZ Tag 3 door entry products. The new contactless exit button is now also available as part of an EZTAG3PRO kit, which also includes the recently launched foot operated door pull. Providing a complete entry system in one box, these new EZTAG3PRO kits comprise proximity door entry keypad, proximity tags, electromagnetic lock, boxed power supply, infra-red contactless exit button, emergency break glass and foot operated door pull.
ESP • 01527 515150 www.espuk.com
Kohler Uninterruptible Power launches new PowerWAVE MF1500 DPA Kohler Uninterruptible Power Ltd has announced the new high power PowerWAVE MF1500 DPA. This new modular UPS promises best-in-market VFI mode energy efficiency (of 97.4%) and is flexible up to 6MW. Designed with a clear goal in mind, to define that reliability does not require excess, and high power can exist alongside efficient use of energy, the MF1500 DPA combines proven Decentralised Parallel Architecture (DPA) technology with the latest advances in components and software. DPA products contain all the essential components of a UPS within each module, including the static switch, allowing independent operation. Its innovative slide-in, cable free module design can be hot-swapped without affecting the rest of the system, easing maintenance, and reducing system repair times to minutes. It also dramatically increases availability allowing a ‘pay-as-you-grow’ approach and delivers exceptional MTTR.
Kohler • 01256 2038 6700 www.kohler-ups.co.uk
OMICRON • 01785 8482 0100 www.omicronenergy.com
Building safety: From evolution to revolution From the creation of the iconic ‘green running man’ to a new generation of advanced technology driving the sector into the future, Anthony Martindale, field product manager, lighting, at Eaton, examines the evolution of building safety. n 1979, Yukio Ota entered and won a competition held by a Japanese fire safety association with his newly created ‘green running man’ design. The graphic designer’s winning entry went on to be adopted as the international standard ISO 7010 in the 1980s – becoming one of the most well-recognised emergency lighting icons globally. While this ‘green running man’ may be considered an iconic and unchanging element of building safety, it’s more or less the only element that hasn’t evolved dramatically in the last 30-40 years. Buildings have become increasingly complex, and potential safety threats have also evolved. In addition to traditional threats such as fire and flooding, newer threats to safety – from power outages to terrorist attacks – must also be considered now. Fortunately, technological advances and industry innovation have revolutionised the sector in recent decades, leading to a rapidly expanding range of advanced technologies that are fit to combat the changing nature of risk in buildings today.
Innovation driven by disaster Since the creation of the ‘green running man’, emergency lighting has evolved into a sophisticated industry – constantly refining existing technology and innovating to drive building safety suitable for today’s complex world of growing threats. Inevitably, its learning has been informed and accelerated by landmark events. High-profile tragedies, from the 1987 fire at London’s King’s Cross underground station to 2013’s Nairobi Westgate Mall terror attack, have sharpened the focus on making emergency wayfinding and evacuation faster, simpler and more effective. The resulting innovation in emergency lighting has touched everything, from luminaires to test systems. For instance, advances with LEDs have led to increased luminaire lifetimes, a reduction in required luminaire size and luminaire optimisation for emergency design. However, beyond these advances, recent years have seen even more innovative and exciting developments take place.
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Architects, specifiers, consultants and building owners are increasingly turning to these innovative solutions to make their spaces as safe as possible. Beyond the need to protect their building occupants, these advanced safety solutions also provide peace of mind for those responsible for the safe infrastructure of public and commercial buildings, given the risk of six-figure fines and even imprisonment if they get it wrong. Enabling faster and safer evacuations The evacuation of commercial buildings can be slowed by people’s failure to recognise standard emergency exit signs. This is exacerbated in buildings where people are unfamiliar with the layout, such as shopping centres, stadia and airports. Innovative increased affordance technology tackles this challenge by making signs much more visible to occupants during an emergency evacuation. While individuals often automatically exit the way they entered a building, the increased affordance functionality ensures exit signs draw people to their nearest exit instead by flashing or pulsing, but never dipping below industry required luminance standards. The development of adaptive signage is another key industry innovation. The danger posed by fires, acts of terrorism and natural disasters will frequently change as the event unfolds. As a result, static signage may no longer be showing the most appropriate exit route during the emergency, as the fire spreads or a terrorist moves around a building. Dynamic adaptive signage that can change can solve this issue, steering people away from unsafe escape routes and showing an alternative exit route instead. Fully adaptive signs can both change to indicate a new escape route, but also revert to their original state when it is safe to do so.
High-profile tragedies, from the 1987 fire at London’s King’s Cross underground station to 2013’s Nairobi Westgate Mall terror attack, have sharpened the focus on making emergency wayfinding and evacuation faster, simpler and more effective The danger of ‘standing still’ Sadly, both small- and large-scale disasters are still all too common, due to non-compliant and substandard emergency lighting. Ultimately, the advanced technologies now available will only save lives if used. Those responsible for the safe infrastructure of buildings risk endangering lives if they do not evolve to keep up as buildings and risk factors change. The industry has come a long way since the creation of the ‘green running man’. It will continue innovating to improve evacuation still further and save more lives. However, the onus is now on building owners, specifiers, facilities managers and electrical contractors to make the most of the new generation of advanced technology available today to better protect building occupants. There’s no room for cutting corners when it comes to protecting life and property.
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