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From Rome to Glasgow

image credit: Italian newspaper, Francesco Prandoni
Norbert Vasen's picture
CEO Birdseye Energy Consulting GmbH

I am on a quest to bring more Energy Managers into industry. Energy Efficiency is behind on Renewable Energy and that is because it is less exciting (is it?) and labour intensive (each situation...

  • Member since 2021
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  • Nov 2, 2021

The G20 finished and we heard already a lot about the climate. Now we are with more climate focus in Glasgow.

The USA was/is well represented on both events!
The COP26 has the focus on Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) or how to finalise the Paris Rulebook (2015) between the nations.
On we can read the Nr 1 Goal: Secure global net zero by mid-century (2050 disappeared because RU and CN have 2060 in mind) and keep 1.5 degrees within reach. How can we do that? According to the website many important things like coal, deforestation, EVs and Renewable Energy are mentioned, but a search of “Energy Efficiency” gives 0 results.

Again we note that Energy Efficiency is still in the shadow! It is less appealing to most of us, because it is vague, exactly because of its multifaceted character. And yet, it contains a plethora of different solutions, which together ensure a lot of avoided greenhouse gases and at the same time many excellent investment opportunities.  
How can we exploit this forgotten source, the “Invisible Fuel”? My opinion is to build a sound basis of human resources around this opportunity. More people, which today are already within the working force and get to know this area in the next years will ensure that the hidden Energy Conservation Opportunities (ECOs) are revealed.

That is the reason that I advocate capacity building in Energy Management, not only for specialist Energy Managers, but even more for general technical employees. These are already present within the economy and should become more literate in Energy Efficiency. Only in this way the Invisible Fuel will be found everywhere and show its enormous potential.

I hope this will not be forgotten in Glasgow.

#COP26 #Glasgow #Energycrisis21, #EnergyManagement, #EnergyManager, #EnergyEfficiency, #industry, #Birdseye, #energytransition #climateChange #Demand Side Management #DSM #EnergyStorage

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Nov 2, 2021

Again we note that Energy Efficiency is still in the shadow! It is less appealing to most of us, because it is vague, exactly because of its multifaceted character

I think it's also overlooked because it's less 'sexy'-- you aren't going to 'solve' the problem with efficiency alone, so it's not as exciting to discuss as things like carbon capture, hydrogen, SMRs, or any other solution that's claiming to be ready to become a complete gamechanger. We know what energy efficiency is, we know we should be doing it, and we know that efficiency with no other changes will still leave us with a problem. But I agree, that doesn't mean we should ignore it-- if anything it makes it more urgent to get our efficiency solutions in order ASAP so we know the scale of the remaining problem that needs to be addressed by all the other opportunities. 

Norbert Vasen's picture
Norbert Vasen on Nov 3, 2021

You are right Matt, it is not enough. As I learned from today's visit to the president of all Energy Performance Contract agencies in Italy (FederESCo), Mr Claudio Ferrari, also in Italy this area is felt as less appealing among all energy solutions.

Indeed it is a diluted solution and you have to start by assessing the current situation and obtain Energy Transparency, so that you know where the energy is consumed and when. And then you have to compare it with benchmarks or other reference values and turn a lot of stones to find the Energy Conservation Opportunities (ECOs). But isn't that the same as a CFO does when optimising a business? (S)he too finds "wrong" values and starts to look for the causes, in all departments of the company. I am not saying that you have also to turn the smallest of pebbles - just start with the big ones and see how large the RoI is. It is often a surprise.

Also the well known Ferrari (the car company in this country), if a prototype doesn't perform well, will look everywhere in the car to optimise. It's not all in the engine!

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Nov 2, 2021

"These are already present within the economy and should become more literate in Energy Efficiency. Only in this way the Invisible Fuel will be found everywhere and show its enormous potential."

Norbert, unfortunately the potential of energy efficiency is not enormous, it's inherently limited. Not a scalar quantity, like kilowatthours, or joules, it's a ratio: useful energy out / energy in. Though it can't be less than 0 (perfect inefficiency, or 100% waste), it can never be equal to or greater than 1  (perfect efficiency, or 0% waste).

Even if a village in Tanzania had SunPower monocrystalline solar panels - the most efficient commercial panels in the world (22.8%), if it's nighttime and residents need to pump water, efficiency is not only an invisible "fuel", it's a useless one.

As energy needs expand exponentially, efficiency improvements will diminish exponentially. As a solution, that means it's guaranteed to disappoint - unfortunately.

Norbert Vasen's picture
Norbert Vasen on Nov 3, 2021

Hi Bob,

I agree that the potential of efficiency is limited. Part of the answer is in the reply to Matt, above. It's just a pity to put a huge engine in a Ferrari without taking care that as much % as possible is converted in the expected result - speed for a sports car.

To turn to your photovoltaic example, I won't say that we have to command the sunshine but in the small PV-Wind-Battery project I realised once in Tuscany (see picture) they wanted to use an inverter with a standby consumption of 300 Watt (we are in 1993) and my point is that we have to look for ways to avoid investing in production capacity that is used to heat equipment instead of satisfy our needs.

To move still closer to the Tanzania example, not only efficiency is a resource but also the storage of transformed electrical energy (i.e. gravitational energy) is a way to optimise the investment (not batteries but water tanks). Common point of the two examples but also for the Energy Efficiency objective is to spend as little as possible for the energy production equipment.

I don't think that Energy Efficiency will disappoint with growing energy needs. As you mention, it is a ratio. As long as we don't care about the energy we purchase, this ratio will be big and the invisible fuel will be cheap to find.

Norbert Vasen's picture
Thank Norbert for the Post!
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