Energy Audit is the first step in the direction of Energy Conservation & Energy Efficiency Project. In fact Energy Audit itself may consist of 3 steps i.e. Preliminary Analysis, Walk-through Energy Audit and Detailed Energy Audit. The steps may sometimes be combined but many Auditors may skip the step or in some cases combine them. More about Energy Audit can be found in our Post on Energy Audit.
There are definite reasons that Energy Audit is not viewed as a wholesome exercise by many. The variety of reasons are at operational level as well as based on past experience by a few of the decision makers who have been involved in previous such exercises -
a. Misconception that Energy Audit in itself would save a lot of Energy.
b. Energy Audit being carried out by inexperienced and incompetent teams.
c. Recommendation implementations not taking place resulting in no conclusive outcome of Energy Audit.
d. Recommendation implementations not approved despite good savings potential.
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With various factors considered it is sensible to assume that an Energy Audit in itself will not save significant energy. Although Energy Audit itself does save some energy and the savings can be in the range of 4-7% achieved by changing certain operational parameters, visible areas of saving by bench-marking, ergonomic factors, enhanced awareness etc.. In case of purely Electrical Energy Audit the savings can be on the higher side of range band through the Energy Audit itself. To achieve significant saving retrofits and equipment replacements are needed as per the recommendations mentioned in the Energy Audit Report. However to obtain appropriate recommendations for operational changes, retrofits and replacements inline with the process and operational requirements is what Energy Audit is all about.
In a nutshell Energy Audit is the first crucial step in the direction of Energy Conservation & Energy Efficiency Project. If carried out in a systematic approach by experts in this field - energy saving can be expected as an outcome of the exercise. The other outcome of course is the report which lists out the recommendations. With ever-rising Energy Costs it is imperative for Industrial Plants to carry out periodic Energy Audit and implement the solution as well to achieve greater results.
Energy Conservation Project generally follows the below cycle -
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Another interesting point is about measuring the savings and if savings have actually been achieved in a plant after an Energy Audit. In general a comparative analysis of energy consumption before and after audit will not reveal true results as energy consumption generally is not constant for any given plant due to seasonal changes, market demand for the product (being manufactured), internal factors etc. Specific Energy Consumption is the term which is used to denote the Energy required or Energy invested (Electricity, Coal, Diesel, Fuel etc.) in producing one unit of a product. With a setup having more than one product the SEC for each of the product needs to be calculated and will give a true indication whether an Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency has been achieved or not.
With an aim to reduce Specific Energy Consumption an Energy Audit should not be carried out in isolation but should be looked at as part of an overall Energy Conservation Project and hence Specific Energy Consumption or Specific Power Consumption should be closely monitored as an ongoing practice to achieve good results.