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Energy Efficiency – A Ten Point Action Plan

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Julian Jackson's picture
Staff Writer, Energy Central BrightGreen PR

Julian Jackson is a writer whose interests encompass business and technology, cryptocurrencies, energy and the environment, as well as photography and film. His portfolio is here:...

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According to the International Energy Authority (IEA), industry is the world's largest consumer of electricity. It also is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases which are warming the planet.

Reuters has issued a ten point action playbook to encourage energy efficiency by industrial consumers, which will benefit both energy suppliers and end users. Energy guru Jeremy Rifkin called energy efficiency “negawatts”, that is the watts that are not produced because they are not needed to accomplish the end goal.

Action #1: audit operations for energy efficiency

Action #2: right-size industrial assets and processes

Action #3: bring connectivity to physical assets

Action #4: install high-efficiency motors

Action #5: use variable speed drives

Action #6: electrify industrial fleets

Action #7: use efficient, well-maintained heat exchangers

Action #8: switch gas boilers to heat pumps

Action #9: deploy smart building management systems

Action #10: move data to the cloud

These ten actions encompass mature technologies which can be utilized right now. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, there are other measures that can be taken, and does not exclude future technological developments.

 

Action #1: audit operations for energy efficiency

Perhaps the number one gain for energy efficiency is from optimizing the functions of industrial processes and assets. An energy efficiency audit sets an important baseline for a company to make energy reductions and identify improvement opportunities. They should be carried out by suitable qualified and accredited agencies.

 

Action #2: right-size industrial assets and processes

Many industrial components and assets are “over engineered” and larger or more powerful than necessary for the job. This often results in excessive energy usage. Matching equipment capacities to energy requirements more accurately leads to more efficient asset and energy use.

 

Action #3: bring connectivity to physical assets

More connected technology, including smart devices, modern sensor systems and the IoT can bring greater efficiencies over all sectors of industrial operations.

 

Action #4: install high-efficiency motors

Industrial power trains are used in numerous applications to convert electrical energy into motion. The main elements of an industrial electric power train are the motor, variable speed drive and the application itself, such as a pump, fan or compressor.

The potential for power train efficiency is vast, says Professor Johann Kolar, head of the Power Electronic Systems Laboratory team at ETH Zürich, the Swiss federal institute of technology, as over half of the energy input into industry is used by such devices.

 

Action #5: use variable speed drives

Instead of using the current steady-speed electric motors, they should be replaced with variable speed drives technologies, which only use the required amount of power for the task they are on.

 

Action #6: electrify industrial fleets

Electric vehicles are a major driver for reducing the use of fossil fuels and reducing costs of transportation. Transitioning to EV fleets will happen as better charging infrastructure is deployed and low-cost, low-carbon renewable electricity burgeons.

 

Action #7: use efficient, well-maintained heat exchangers

Heat transfer is crucial when it comes to making an industrial process energy efficient and heat exchangers are used for heating and cooling in nearly all industries globally. Often they are poorly-maintained, and this is some “low-hanging fruit” for increasing efficiency, simply by cleaning and maintaining them properly.

 

Action #8: switch gas boilers to heat pumps

Heat pumps are going to be key for global decarbonization as a replacement for conventional boilers. The IEA forecasts the technology will be in widespread use by 2050 for heating use.

 

Action #9: deploy smart building management systems

Buildings account for about 40% of total energy use and 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations Environment Program. For industry, this is perhaps unsurprising in that buildings and associated infrastructure are seldom designed from the bottom up with energy efficiency in mind. This needs to change.

 

Action #10: move data to the cloud

Demand for digital services is growing rapidly. The energy usage is expanding also, so companies need to ensure that they are optimizing their computing through cloud technologies so there is less duplication of hardware and services.

Overall, these 10 actions will help reduce the strain on an overloaded energy production system, while reducing users costs and emissions.

Discussions
Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Dec 5, 2022

Love that you end on the point about data. The hardware isn't sufficient for true energy efficiency, but tracking and fine tuning with data, using that to help the people/managers be more efficient, and all those endeavours is just as important. 

Julian Jackson's picture
Thank Julian for the Post!
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