TSSG spin-out ASTRAL aims to cut firm’s energy costs

12 Oct 2011

A team of researchers from Waterford Institute of Technology’s (WIT) Telecommunications Software and Systems Group (TSSG) has pooled their IT and business talents to create ASTRAL, a new energy management system it says will “drastically” reduce spending on electricity while increasing operational efficiency.

As global energy prices continue to rise, there is greater pressure on enterprises to cut spending on wasted energy. The ASTRAL concept, which was developed over five years in TSSG, is a flexible management system its creators say can reduce energy spending by monitoring the use of all devices in a building. Using sensors, it can determine which devices are using the most electricity and can turn off computers, phones, lighting, heating and ventilation systems when not required, according to Kevin Quinn, researcher, TSSG.

“We have developed a centralised system for light, heating, IT that matches energy requirements to usage. It provides a global view of energy requirements and allows tight control over costs and is fast and simple to implement,” he said.

How ASTRAL works

ASTRAL’s energy-management platform operates by recording and graphing the energy spend of every device in a building and can ensure no devices are consuming power when employees leave their offices at the end of the working day or week, says the team.

“Studies show that in the US alone it costs US$2.8bn (€2bn) per annum to power PCs when they are not in use. We estimate that ASTRAL can provide savings of up to €53 per computer per year by simply powering down unused PCs. This is a considerable energy saving for any PC-heavy business, even before you take into account additional savings on lighting, heating, ventilation, etc.

“The ASTRAL system involves attaching a sensor to each device, which is controlled from a central hub. It integrates easily and seamlessly with the existing power infrastructure and it doesn’t require costly upgrades or interfere with daily work routines. It can transform buildings into energy-efficient ecosystems without the need for changes to corporate culture or policies,” he said.

ASTRAL is the result of five years of R&D in autonomic and policy management systems at the TSSG. According to the TSSG, it is the first building-wide energy-management system to measure and manage all the energy being used in a building – from large systems, such as heating and lighting systems, down to individual devices plugged into wall sockets, such as PCs, water coolers, etc.  

ASTRAL also interconnects to a wide range of sensor types and sensor protocols, including Zigbee and EnOcean.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic