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Sat 29 Aug 2009 04:00 AM

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The last mile

Varis Energy managing director David Hogan talks to UME about how wireless metering can save cash and capacity.

The last mile

Varis Energy managing director David Hogan talks to UME about how wireless metering can save cash and capacity.

What's your company's background?

Varis Energy's partners have a history of involvement in substation automation. The idea came when we first saw the change in mindset of utilities and how they were implementing the smart grid - taking the demand response situation from a commercial setting and move it into a residential setting - in order to facilitate load curtailment.

That's where we came across Zigbee. It's touted as a ‘last mile'  communications link between meters and smart devices in the home.

So, what do you do?

Through our partners Rotary-Humm Dubai we offer highly flexible, easy to retro-fit smart energy management solutions. Our product offerings go beyond traditional energy management where designed to be implemented as part of utility-based variable tariff structures. This load shedding, demand response capability provides significant savings for the utility right down to the end user, with the added benefits of course to the environment, due to reduced consumption. Dubai can expect to see variable tariff structures coming very soon with the initial roll out of smart meters already taking place.

What is significant about Zigbee?

Our products communications are based on Zigbee wireless. This allowed us to retrofit the Environment Protection Agency building in two days. To wire such a building would normally take two weeks. The existing market is enormous compared to the new, it's how to make a difference for utilities, who want to affect existing companies, because that's where the bulk of their demand is.

Can you describe an application has your wireless product/service been used for?

Our solution has been deployed in hotels, university's, commercial buildings, and retail stores. Our largest single installation is in the 5 000 room-plus Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas. The system offers full integration and control of hotel reservations, room management, HVAC, lighting and access control.

What benefits did it offer your client and how are these realised?

During our case studies we have found that clients who purchase our solution enjoy savings of 30-40% HVAC depending on site usage. We also further help our clients by reducing the capital cost of the system by entering into a revenue sharing agreement based on energy savings over five years.

What do you see as the next development step for your service or product?

We will keep expanding our range of products to include control of standard consumer electronics devices. RF4CE group is going to see Zigbee as becoming the new standard for communications in consumer devices like TV's, fridges, washing machines etc. It has already been shown in concept that a washing machine doesn't start its wash cycle until the utility meter tells the machine that it is now the economy price tariff.

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