Anticipating solar production, optimising generator idling time, load shifting and peak shaving

The many ways Elum Energy helps tower owners optimise cell site energy systems

Read this article to learn:

  • Who Elum Energy are and where their technology has been deployed
  • Key features of their ePowerMonitor and ePowerControl
  • Elum’s pricing model for their systems
  • Attitudes towards solar power at cell sites across Africa
  • How Elum’s learning algorithms forecasting solar production enable site optimisation
  • What’s next for Elum Energy?

Elum Energy provide turnkey energy monitoring and control systems for grid-tied and off-grid telecom towers, lowering their energy costs. TowerXchange speak to Elum Energy’s CEO, Karim El Alami to understand more about their products and the important role they can play in optimising solar-hybrid sites.

TowerXchange: Please tell us about Elum’s history and footprint?

Karim El Alami, CEO, Elum Energy:

Elum is a technology company based in France and Morocco. It was established three years ago and provides software solutions to monitor and control telecom sites energy assets in order to reduce their energy expenditure. We operate mainly in Africa and the Middle East with some key references in Morocco and Senegal and Cameroon. Our clients are MNOs, towercos and equipment manufacturers. 

The key strengths of our technology are: 

The adaptability of our platform to integrate into major energy equipment brands installed on existing sites.

The ability of our algorithms to significantly reduce operational expenditures of equipped sites

TowerXchange: Talk us through your key products in the telecoms sector – what makes them different? 

Karim El Alami, CEO, Elum Energy:

We provide two key products:

ePowerMonitor, our remote monitoring & control software platform, is an RMS solution  providing, on top of traditional features covering energy, maintenance and fuel management: a remote setpoints edition tool for rectifiers, HVAC/free cooling systems/ gensets to reduce site visits and energy costs; an alarm manager tool for issue troubleshooting and prioritisation to increase network uptime; and a portfolio data analysis tool allowing to identify site bottlenecks and energy efficiency actions  

ePowerControl, our energy optimization software, automates energy savings on PV-storage hybrid sites through our learning algorithms leveraging site energy & weather data to perform battery charging & genset runtime optimisation. On high solar penetration hybrid sites( >50%) we are able to achieve up to 15% direct fuel savings by avoiding solar kWh losses as well as reducing genset start/stops therefore also reducing related maintenance costs. 

We can integrate with lead-acid and lithium Ion batteries, however the vast majority of sites encountered so far are equipped with lead acid ones. We have sites running with our technology in Morocco, Senegal and Cameroon so far. 

TowerXchange: Do you see a big difference in attitude between MNOs and independent towercos? How do their attitudes towards power differ?

Karim El Alami, CEO, Elum Energy:

We see a global will from both MNOs and towercos to work with ESCOs for power on remote sites to hedge their risk on site energy related costs and concentrate on their core business. 

As there is still great room for energy efficiency improvement on MNO & towerco portfolios coupled with corporate push to secure & improve EBITDA levels, our value proposition is compelling to both actors wanting to make their brownfield assets more profitable without the heavy CAPEX investment necessity. 

For MNO and towercos that have already started the solarisation of their portfolio to reduce their OPEX in poor-grid/off-grid scenarios, ePowerControl enables solar penetration rate increases without adding too much battery storage capacity impacting the investment profitability, thanks to our powerful algorithms that can anticipate the intermittency of solar generation. This can also be key for ESCOs that want to propose the best price for their clients.

TowerXchange: You offer a solar + storage software solution for tower owners. How do you feel attitudes towards renewables are changing in Africa? Is this driven more by practical or political considerations?

Karim El Alami, CEO, Elum Energy:

Solar Energy is now a reality and is widely seen as a competitive solution in Africa for remote sites where fuel costs are greatly impacting profitability or where sites are facing unreliable grid electricity supply. We have been surprised by the share of towers which were considered to be solarised in our client’s portfolio. We believe that, even if it was more driven by political and HSE considerations in the past, it is now seen as a truly cost effective solution to drive down portfolio operational expenditures and ensure SLAs uptime level. 

TowerXchange: Tell us about your payment model – do you offer a purely capex solution?

Karim El Alami, CEO, Elum Energy:

Our solutions are provided as a service with both a fixed annual fee for ePowerMonitor and ePowerControl. For ePowerMonitor the fee in indexed on the amount of sites to be monitored.  For ePowerControl the fee is indexed as a percentage of the energy savings pocket accessible through ePowerControl optimisation software, benchmarked with previous experiences made on similar cases. Depending on client’s current portfolio situation and equipment installed, if any hardware is necessary onsite, it will be charged as a CAPEX. 

TowerXchange: Can you tell us more about your controller capabilities? How does this drive better efficiency onsite? What is the scope of the insights you can offer?

Karim El Alami, CEO, Elum Energy:

Our controller offers extended compatibility with major energy equipment manufacturers. It has been designed to be plug-and-play and easy to install by our clients’ technal teams, it is highly cyber secured allowing remote site parameter additions without compromising site energy supply security. 

Finally its embedded intelligence allows autonomous and efficient site energy management tailored to each site’s uniqueness (such as climate conditions, solar resource available, power system sizing, hardware installed and site load) to drive fuel costs down.

Our learning algorithms leverage all accessible site data to perform battery charging & genset runtime optimisation based on forecasted site solar production. By anticipating solar energy production we typically avoid the loss of solar kWh when the battery is full at midday, We can also optimise the daily amount of genset start/stops by dynamically managing the rectifier control policy thresholds. These two levers allow both direct short-term fuel savings and long-term efficiency increase, on battery cycles and genset runtime, to reduce maintenance and replacement costs. 

TowerXchange: What’s next for Elum? Tell us about your plans and ambitions for growth in the telecoms sector

Karim El Alami, CEO, Elum Energy:

Our solutions are currently tested by several MNOs, towerCos and equipment manufacturers, mainly in Africa. 

Our main goal for 2019 is to achieve several roll-outs of our technology at scale (>500 sites)  on our current MNO and towerco client portfolios. In parallel we aim to sign global partnerships with ESCOs and equipment manufacturer to streamline our technology deployment in other geographies. In late Q4 2018 we will announce a global partnership with one of the major global tower equipment providers.

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