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The National University of Singapore to Pilot Digital Energy Solutions

Image credit: nus.edu.sg

The National University of Singapore (NUS) will pilot SP Group’s digital energy solutions to improve energy efficiency standards. SP Group, a leading utility provider in the Asia-Pacific, also offers sustainable energy solutions for businesses. The digital energy solutions will be installed at two buildings in NUS’ University Town (UTown) – the Education Resource Centre and the Stephen Riady Centre – in the first half of 2022.

According to news reports, SP Group stated that both buildings will allow the solutions to be tested effectively, with their various categories of spatial use, such as offices, teaching rooms and sports facilities. They also have commercial tenants.

The smart solution consists of an online portal and a mobile application tool. The portal allows building facilities managers to keep track of the building’s aggregated water and electricity consumption and resulting carbon emissions. This would aid users to identify ways to reduce their utility usage.

The portal has two prominent features – advanced data analytics and an anomaly detection function. The data analytics feature provides recommendations on saving energy. This will assist building operators to plan more efficient building management. The artificial intelligence-enabled anomaly detection function prevents utility wastage by alerting managers of anomalies in consumption patterns.

Alongside facilities managers, building occupants will also be involved in SP Group’s digital energy solutions. The occupants, such as staff, workers and students, as well as those who may visit the buildings for meetings, will be provided with an “At Work” function of the SP Utilities mobile app. The app aims to enhance the occupants’ sustainability experience by providing them with personalised energy data, such as how much energy and water are being used in specific locations of the building, helping them to be more aware of its consumption performance.

Additionally, occupants will be encouraged to adopt green behaviour through the app’s quizzes, challenges, rewards and tips on saving energy.

These digital energy solutions have been developed by SP Group under the Green Buildings Innovation Cluster with the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) awarding it a grant to implement digital solutions to push the limits of buildings’ energy efficiency standards.

SP Group has said that with the support of BCA and operators, they will be able to develop user-centric solutions to advance next-gen green, energy-efficient buildings, and create green communities that will accelerate a carbon-neutral future for Singapore.

To further save on energy, a team of researchers from NUS and Japan recently found a new way to use devices to convert Wi-Fi signals into electricity to power small LED lights, as reported by OpenGov Asia.

Reports say that charging smart devices wirelessly in the future could be as simple as being near a Wi-Fi router, after this recent technological breakthrough. As for medical implants, the technology could do away with undergoing surgery each time an implant’s battery needs to be replaced because it has run out. The Wi-Fi energy harvesting technology could also help power sensors, such as those on buildings for environmental monitoring and other smart city applications.

The Wi-Fi harvesting technology involves small devices called spin-torque oscillators used in wireless communication systems. Using commercial manufacturing processes, it may be possible to fit one billion to 10 billion of these small oscillators into a 1cm square chip, said the researchers. By tapping how sub-atomic particles called electrons spin, the oscillators can convert electricity into a Wi-Fi signal. The devices can also do the reverse to convert a Wi-Fi signal into electricity.

One of the researchers involved from NUS’ Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said the team has received many queries on the research. A number have come from the medical field, where there is interest in powering neural device implants. The world is surrounded by Wi-Fi signals but when people are not using them to access the Internet, they are inactive. And this is a huge waste, he explained.

The team of researchers from NUS and Japan’s Tohoku University took almost three years and spent USD 1 million on the research.

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