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Article Date: 27th July 2016

Carlo Gavazzi Checks in at Birmingham Airport

Birmingham Airport - Carbon Footprint - Energy Meters - Electrical Sub-Meters

Carlo Gavazzi - Birmingham Airport Runway

When Birmingham Airport looked to reduce its energy costs and cut its carbon footprint they turned to Carlo Gavazzi to supply 150 EM21 energy meters.

Birmingham Airport is the third largest airport outside London, and the UK’s seventh largest overall, handling more than ten million passengers a year. Around £300 million has been invested in the airport since the year 2000 to create a facility fit for future growth, particularly for long haul markets. The recently extended runway has the capacity to handle more than 18m passengers a year. The longer runway allows aircraft to fly direct to and from the Far East, the West Coast of the USA, South America and South Africa.

With operations on this scale it is no surprise that the airport is a big user of energy. The total energy bill for the last financial year was around £6 million, its largest controllable cost. There is a big focus on energy efficiency and a reduction in consumption, from a financial and environmental perspective. Increasing understanding to enable action, is a key goal of the organisation. As the Airport’s Chief Executive Officer, Paul Kehoe, likes to say "If you can see it, you can measure it and if you can measure it, you can do something about it."

The target for the last financial year was a 5% electrical energy reduction. This equates to energy cost savings of £175,000. Consultants, LCMB, work in partnership with the airport’s engineering and operations team to deliver energy management services. An essential part of the work has been the development of a simple, cost effective and flexible data collection system.

"While the airport already had electrical sub-meters installed, there were still significant gaps which meant further meters needed to be installed to complete the project and ensure the understanding of key energy-consuming areas," explains Mitchel Maynard, Senior Energy Consultant at LCMB. "We began by developing a metering strategy that aimed to address these issues and fundamentally provide a clearer overview of energy usage across the site."

Carlo Gavazzi - Energy MetersThis resulted in a metering project to fit 150 new EM21 three-phase energy meters, supplied by Carlo Gavazzi. "The meter hierarchy was broken down into six levels from the highest Level 1 (incoming high voltage tariff meter) to the lowest Level 6 (low level distribution board meter such as lighting and small power)," explains Mitchel.

The system generates an SQL database of meter readings with time and date stamps. The system communicates using the Modbus Protocol, and the site wide IT network is used to communicate with the meters. The key benefits of this system are:

  • Low capital cost.
  • The SQL database has open access and can be used by other systems such as the building management system and energy management software.
  • It is flexible and non-proprietary.
  • The database is owned by the airport and data analysis software can easily be updated.

The 150 Carlo Gavazzi EM21 meters were added to the Modbus network using SIUTCP3 units as gateways. This enabled the meter to then send data direct to the SQL database. One single meter can be used for both panel mounting and DIN rail mounting applications due to its dual mounting technology.

The EM21s provide three-phase energy metering and feature a removable front LCD display unit. The same unit can be used as either a DIN-rail mounting or a panel mounting energy meter. This general-purpose meter is suitable for both active and reactive energy metering for cost allocation and for main electrical parameter measurement and retransmission. Pulse output is provided as standard for active energy retransmission along with the two-wire RS485 communication port option.

Meters, comms interface and the network all proved simple to set up and they can be easily configured.

Carlo Gavazzi - Birmingham Airport ShopsDifferent teams around the airport are able to identify, understand and reduce avoidable waste as much as possible, detecting waste quickly and taking preventative action. Monthly energy performance reports are prepared for each department within the airport, showing year-on-year usage comparisons, weather-corrected consumption, forecasts for the year, plant and equipment consumptions and energy reduction targets and commentary for the month.

"Monthly management energy reduction steering group meetings are held to discuss current energy performance, project progress and any other energy-related items," says Mitchel. "This process helps ensure that energy remains high up on everyone’s agenda and that energy news gets filtered down to each department."

All this is designed to help each department understand where energy is used and how they are performing, both individually and against each other. "This competition at management level has actually been very effective – in that managers are very keen to be seen to be performing well and always have lots of questions if they are not," says Mitchel.

An important element of getting the support of senior management at the airport is by getting them to communicate energy saving news and performance to the airport staff and utilise all the different modes of communication the airport has to offer to do it, for example in newsletters or the airport’s intranet. "This helps reinforce the importance of saving energy at the airport. It has far more impact if the CEO tells staff about saving energy at the airport than if I do," says Mitchel.

Birmingham Airport is well on its way to achieving further growth and Carlo Gavazzi is helping to make sure this is achieved while minimising energy consumption and controlling fuel bills.

Carlo Gavazzi - Birmingham Airport Shops

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