Where are my energy savings?

13 July 2018
By: Derek DiGiacomo, SR Director, Energy Management Programs & Business Continuity, SCTE ISBE

We’re all getting excited about energy savings from new technology and initiatives resulting from the SCTE-ISBE’s Energy 2020 program.  The Adaptive Power Challenge in particular is already offering us a plethora of new ideas for saving energy in cable networks.  But we also have to prove the energy savings resulted from our efforts, and that requires base lining, measurement and verification (M&V) and careful analysis of the results to ensure they truly resulted from the energy conservation measure we implemented.  While this can be relatively straightforward in cases where we are already metering, sub-metering, and fully monitoring our energy consumption, this capability is not yet ubiquitous in our facilities, and certainly not yet in our outside plant (OSP).  In fact, many legacy power supplies in the OSP lack not only utility metering, but some even lack the most basic monitoring capabilities, or have older monitoring systems that are not as accurate as modern systems.  And often, the utility bills have been negotiated, so they would not be lower even if we are saving energy.  We must find a way to prove to the utility that we are indeed using less energy than was previously negotiated.  This is a critical aspect of access network efficiency initiatives, and one we are focused on now in the SCTE ANE working group.

Likewise, even if we can show the IT load went down in our facilities after deploying APSIS or other energy-conserving technologies, we have to show that it was indeed due to the new technology and not due to other causes like existing virtualized server technology in our larger headends.  Or due to the decommissioning of older, unused equipment in facilities, which we are getting better and better about doing, and doing regularly.  In fact, there are often many reasons the energy use fluctuates in our facilities; so, teasing out the individual contributions and their sources requires careful scientific methods.  And if we hope to garner incentives from our initiatives, the process of M&V is even more detailed and laborious.

So, as we explore new energy-conserving measures like APSIS and indeed the complete suite of proposed technologies, approaches, and solutions for achieving the Energy 2020 goals, let’s not forget that we still have to prove the energy savings were definitely due to our efforts.  It may require us to add additional monitoring, even if just temporarily.  But if we leave out this valuable step, we may not get the corporate buy-in needed to deploy such technology across the entire footprint.  They, just like the utility companies, will expect us to prove that what we did made a difference, and by how much.