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MINATEC: Targeting -10% less energy for the production and distribution of utilities

Within two years, the Utilities Services Unit of ENGIE Cofely intends to significantly optimize the efficiency of utilities production and distribution at the MINATEC Innovation Campus in Grenoble, a performance backed in particular by the blu.e digital platform and business expertise.


Minatec: an Innovation Campus in micro and nano technologies

Mountain peaks around the corner, “gratin dauphinois” on the menu and a glorious Winter Olympics past, such is the picture postcard of Grenoble well known by everyone in France. A tryptic to which has been added over the past few years an image of scientific excellence acknowledged across Europe. Among the many players in this innovative momentum, the MINATEC Campus combines, in the north-west of the city, various research facilities involved in the field of micro and nano technologies (CEA, INP Grenoble, start-ups…).

   |  Minatec in brief

  • 3,000 researchers
  • 1,200 students
  • 600 industrial operators into the ecosystem
  • 20 hectares
  • 13,000 sqm of sterile rooms
  • 20 types of fluids and gases (heat, compressed air, nitrogen, ice water, hydrogen…) that need to be distributed to ensure that research projects run smoothly.


Although this latter number of 20 may sound the least spectacular, it actually conceals a genuine technical challenge: “We have to guarantee the ongoing availability of fluids”, explains Etienne Vogt, General Manager of Utilities Services at ENGIE Cofely. “This is reflected for instance in performance commitments on indicators like temperature or moisture content. In particular, many sterile rooms have extremely stringent requirements for product quality.”This is a sensitive mission that requires significant resources: 17 staff members working in situ and a total of €25 million invested since the start of the facility management contract in 2006, up to the Campus extension phase in 2017.


Real-time monitoring and proactive management of production volumes

After demonstrating its ability to meet its commitments, the ENGIE Cofely team embarked on a new challenge two years ago: a 10% reduction of the energy expenditures linked to the production and distribution of utilities, at constant requirements, by year-end 2018. This challenge drove Etienne Vogt to equip the facilities with the blu.e energy management digital platform.

“Our first goal was to monitor in a more dynamic way the volumes of fluids produced. We switched from weekly reporting to quasi-real time monitoring. The second challenge was to identify any potential drift against predefined ratios in the facilities. Our third and final goal involved defining the operating set-points to increase the efficiency of the facilities.”

In practice, the facilities now include integrated, real-time reporting of data from the meters and weather forecasts to a single database. This utilities performance monitoring and reporting system incorporates surveillance graphs, key energy efficiency indicators, gauges of operating set-points for technicians, and reporting templates for managers. Collaborative workshops are organized regularly with the operational crews to identify best operating practices and ensure continuous energy efficiency improvements. For instance, a recent workshop has led to the implementation of a control system for the ice water production unit, now based on forecasts of user needs which in turn are modelled from weather forecast data.


Further steps enabled by initial positive results

Two years after the Blu.e platform was implemented, major financial savings have already been achieved on utilities production and distribution costs. Some examples deserve mentioning among others: €20,000 saved per annum on ice water and mixed water production, €20,000 saved per annum thanks to optimized power subscription contracts and reduced penalties linked to power over-consumption in excess of the contractual cap.

This initial success however needs to be further comforted, according to Etienne Vogt:

“The blu.e platform provides access to huge amounts of data… but we now need to find a way to use them! At the ENGIE Cofely Utilities Services Unit, blu.e must become a tool serving an overall energy management process. This new approach will require in particular a strong managerial commitment to change ingrained habits and make decisions on new potential improvements”.

Determination, innovation, operational excellence, these are three virtues that would deserve to be featured also on the picture postcard of Grenoble!


   |  Key figures

15 MW capacity of ice water production

20  number of fluids and gases distributed on the site

> €40 k/year  savings achieved