Electrical and thermal energy represent substantial operating costs to processing plants. Increasing power and fuel costs make it critical to boost energy efficiency and lower energy costs, especially since those savings go directly to the bottom line.
What is Energy Management?
Energy management is the implementation of technical and organizational measures in an economically beneficial way for a lasting reduction in the energy costs and the environmental impact of the energy consumption. In technical terms, energy management is the process of monitoring, controlling and conserving energy in an organization. Energy management is a continuous process much like performance management and likewise, it has a cycle depicted in Figure 1.
The Energy Management Cycle
Figure 1: The energy management cycle
The cycle starts with a commitment from Top Management to continuous improvement culminating in the formation of an Energy Team with an Energy Manager as the team leader. An energy policy is then developed and instituted.
Once the energy management team is in place, the first task is to assess the current performance of the organisation. This is done through the collection of energy and production data, which will form the baseline for future assessments. (You cannot control what you do not measure.) The collected data is analysed through technical assessments and audits to determine trends in energy usage. Based on the collected data and industry benchmarks, scope for improvement of the energy intensity and realistic targets are set.
An action plan is then created and implemented based on the set goals and progress monitored against the set targets. As with any strategy, it is important for an effective communication plan to be in place. The communication plan is used to raise awareness among the employees, build capacity, motivate staff as well as to track and monitor the progress of the energy management programme. Progress made needs to be evaluated on a periodic basis with achievements recognised so as to keep staff motivated.
Benefits of Energy Management
Benefits include reduced energy costs and energy consumption via the use of a structured approach to identifying, measuring and managing your energy consumption. This also translates to a reduction in overall production and operating costs as energy production can consume 40-60% of the total operations budget.
Energy efficiency and energy conservation measures assist in reducing the impact from rising energy prices and blackouts, thus increasing the security of supply.
An organisation can also realise improved productivity and product quality by implementing an energy management programme. An energy management programme encourages an organisation to measure and monitor critical performance indicators in the plant leading to better product quality as a result of timely corrective action being taken. Energy management drives greater productivity by identifying technical point solutions and affecting behavioural change to reduce energy consumption.
Instituting energy management measures shows good corporate citizenship, which brings with it improved public image and reputation with customers, the public and government (compliance with legislation and ISO 14001 targets).
The production and use of energy cannot be separated from environmental concerns. Of the six greenhouse gases (GHG) listed by Kyoto, one of the most significant by volume of emissions is carbon dioxide (CO2) and it is mainly emitted as a result of electricity generation and use, as well as direct thermal losses in, for example, heating.
Apart from reducing CO2 emissions, energy management also results in the reduction of GHG emissions and other emissions like sulphur oxides (SOX), nitrogen oxides (NOX) and particulate matter. The organisation as a whole benefits from an improved overall environmental performance resulting in cheaper licensing from the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) based on emission levels and volumes.
There are also associated benefits to staff members, including improved staff health, improved safety and improved staff morale.
Energy efficiency and conservation is dubbed the ԯther alternative fuelԠas it results in the creation of a virtual power station. It is cheaper to create a virtual power plant than to build a new power plant. A new power plant takes on average four years to construct. There is therefore a shorter time to realize benefits as compared to building a new power plant. With the potential to save up to 40% in energy saving in industrial concerns, energy management is definitely worth the investment!
Energy, like any resource, can be managed. Energy management is the key to saving energy in an organisation. It is said that if you cannot measure it, you cannot control it and if you cannot control it, you cannot manage it!