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Simplicity is the key to excellence

Simplicity is the key to excellence

Power procurement, efficient energy use, cost arbitrage among energy sources, distributed generation and control and management are some of the activities that determine the competitiveness of energy costs of a company or institution.

These issues involve complexity. How to make good quality decisions? My experience is (a) focus on what is important and (b) be clear about the key issues:

  1. What are the opportunities?
  2. What "boundary conditions" are involved? 
  3. Who should decide? 
  4. What to choose: "structured" or "detailed" solutions? 
  5. How to measure and control results? 

If you have solid answers for these 5 questions, congratulations. You are part of a select group that has put together a powerful decision-making process. Otherwise it is high time to seek knowledge and experience to "get there"!


Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on May 17, 2019

These seem to be great 'rules' to live by in energy decisions. I'd love if you could give an example of a successful project and how these items all fit into that! Curious to learn more from your experience

Rafael Herzberg's picture
Rafael Herzberg on May 19, 2019

Given that all my consulting works are protected by confidentiality I will mention a case (Dixie packaging company) that was awarded (energy efficiency and conservation) by FIESP (a Brazilian industrial Federation). 

The CEO asked me "what were they able to do to reduce their power bill?, So I asked to  visit to their plant, talk to their operations manager and then come back with my findings.

It was clear to me after this field vist and associated interviews that:

  • Power factor related monthly penalties should be elliminated by installing capacitors. 
  • Contracted demand (before the local ultility company) should be adjusted to the recorded demand to avoid the ongoing monthly penalties 
  • The time of use rates should be changed - there were two types of TOU and the selection (minimum monthly cost) depends on the on-peak power consumption
  • The electric motors (water pumps and ventilation) should be driven by adjustable speed drives as opposed to to the current mechanical valves (physical restricton the the flow) to signficantly reduce energy consumption
  • There was a project (stuck at the engineering department) to replace infrared by ultraviolet heating (in most of the drying processes) - this made all the sense and should be launched!

Then I had a very productive meeting with the CEO and the Industrial VP of this packaging company to ellaborate about these above mentioned energy related opportunities to reduce their cost.

They accepted my suggestions and decided to give green light to their engineering manager "to make them happen" with my consulting support. This is what came out of it;

  1. I calculated the amount of kVARs required to correct the power and then the company's purchasing department bought the capacitors and the engineering manager was in charge of installing them (using their maintanence department). In a couple of month this was accomplished!
  2. I suggested that the contracted demand should be raised by 200 kW. This would elliminate their monthly penalties. In a month this was done. It was only a matter of sending a letter to the local utility company.
  3. I showed the power bill cost comparison using the blue rates and the green rates so that they would select the cheaper one. And they decided to change the rate structure. The only requirement was sending a letter to the local utility company.
  4. I suggested that we should test an adjustable speed drive to control a water pump electric motor and compare power consumption (measuring energy per amount of water pumped) with the traditional valves. The value of the saved energy to be confrontend with the required capital investment to decide abou its implementation with respects to all pumps and ventilation systems. After a 1 month test it was clear that the return on the investment was excelllent and the packaging company decided to retrofit all mechanical valves!
  5. The ultra violet dry heating process was implemented for a pilot production line and its power comsumption compared to the infra-red. It was clear that its payback was excellent so all lines were retroffited in less than 6 months.

Plain ad simple. But.... I was talking to the upper management levels all the way. This made all the diffference because these guys were driven by results and were open to learn about opportunities. It is quite different when you talk to lower levels!

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on May 20, 2019

Really fascinating and exactly what I was looking for..thanks so much for sharing that, Rafael. Makes this a lot 'closer to home'

Rafael Herzberg's picture

Thank Rafael for the Post!

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