Raina Gandhi

The E2e Project is in the process of launching the largest demonstration and evaluation of an innovative energy monitoring system for industrial facilities. The project will provide industrial customers and policymakers data-based evidence on whether advanced energy monitoring is a cost-effective approach to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This research project is in partnership with a private company, Lightapp Technologies, and is supported by a $5 million research grant from the California Energy Commission.

The grant was awarded as part of the CEC’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program, an ambitious effort to develop and demonstrate the next generation of energy technologies to address California’s clean energy goals. 

“We are honored to receive this highly competitive grant from the Energy Commission,” said Catherine Wolfram, Faculty Director of E2e and the Cora Jane Flood Professor of Business Administration at the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley. “Policymakers are looking to energy efficiency to reduce the world’s dependency on fossil fuels. Yet our understanding of how individual behavior influences energy use is still poor. This project aims to narrow that knowledge gap.”

E2e’s partner, Lightapp Technologies, has developed a software-based, optimized energy management system for industrial facilities. This innovative approach to energy management relates electricity consumption within specific plant systems to the production outputs of those systems. Lightapp’s software collects data from shop-floor sensors, manufacturing software systems and external data such as weather, and creates reports that will enable users to discover, analyze, and share data about how they consume energy—and, more importantly, how they might use it more efficiently. The reports also identify specific ways to lower consumption through operational changes, repairs, and capital investments.

“Lightapp’s mission is to enable decision makers at all levels in the industrial sector to make financially driven decisions about their energy and operations” said Elhay Farkash, CEO at Lightapp. “We are excited to partner with E2e to roll out our new technology to industrial facilities in California and show that by simplifying energy management through software, manufacturers can improve bottom line results and enhance throughput performance.”

For this project, E2e and Lightapp will test Lightapp’s energy-monitoring system in one hundred California industrial facilities. The project will focus on the facilities’ compressed air systems. Compressed air systems do everything from running bottling lines at breweries to powering tools in automotive factories. Air compressors and the equipment they drive account for around 10 percent of the electricity used by manufacturers. In some plants, compressors use more electricity than any other kind of gear. With a leaky compressor valve, money is literally disappearing into thin air.  If successful, the technology can be used throughout a facility and measure energy consumption in every part of the manufacturing process.

E2e will structure the evaluation as a randomized controlled trial, where randomly chosen facilities will be recruited to participate and receive Lightapp’s analytical software. This arrangement will enable the faculty researchers – Catherine Wolfram (UC Berkeley), Michael Greenstone (University of Chicago), and Christopher Knittel (MIT) – to precisely measure the impact of the new technology and analytics on industrial facilities’ electricity consumption.  By including a sampling of facilities from different industrial sectors, the researchers also hope to identify which types of facilities are more likely to adopt the new technology and gather information on potential barriers to adoption.

This project aims to generate rigorous and reliable evidence on the effectiveness of an industrial energy-management system. If successful, the findings can be used to encourage thousands of California manufacturers—and even more worldwide—to deploy energy management systems to save energy, lower costs, and reduce carbon emissions.