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Load Research by End-Use Metering

Principal Investigators:
Dr. Afshin Afshari, Professor of Practice, Engineering Systems and Management, Masdar Institute
Dr. Peter Armstrong, Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering, Masdar Institute

In the US and Canada utilities have conducted load research for decades. In the 1960s this activity was mainly in support of marketing to encourage fuel switching from oil or gas to electricity. In the 1980-90s load research was instrumental in justifying demand-side management (DSM) programs (Peterson 1992, Baily 1994).

Without knowing how much energy is used per device (be it water heater, heat pump, supply fan, refrigerator, range, PC or light bulb) one cannot properly estimate the savings of a given retrofit or substitution. Without a reasonable savings estimate one cannot estimate the cost-effectiveness of the retrofit or substitution. With adequate sample size by building characteristic (building age and type, current use or function) one can estimate the cost-effectiveness of a DSM program (including its costs of administration, marketing, delivery, and evaluation, as well as cost of individual retrofits) and the uncertainty in such an estimate.

Currently the estimates of end-use in Abu Dhabi are based on high-level analyses (RTI, Ali 2011) and on load research projects of limited scope (ADM/DMA/Schneider). There is consequently an opportunity to identify and prioritize DSM activities and, in the process, to reach a larger fraction of the truly cost-effective actions while avoiding the bad, marginal or risky investments.

The project is currently developing a sampling plan and designing a next-generation load research meter. Upcoming tasks include recruiting of participants, metering device deployment, operation of the end-use metering network to build a large load research data-base, and performing end-use analyses. Because they all contribute to the cooling load, it is important to Comprehensive Cooling Program (CCP) to understand time of use patterns and magnitudes of all end uses.
The pilot phase will deploy end-use metering in 50 commercial and 50 residential buildings. The eventual objective is 500/500 including a large fraction of buildings that are CCP participants in which a variety of retrofits will be made so that end-use intensities can be characterized before and after retrofit.

Abu Dhabi energy subsidies currently represent the largest single government expenditure. Although low energy prices fuel economic growth, they also promote waste and inhibit introduction and creation of more efficient end-use technologies as well as control and user-feedback technologies that facilitate wise and frugal energy use. It is estimated that cost-effective retrofits based on true supply costs to pre-Estidama buildings can save 50% energy use.