Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Energy Audit :: Why should a Plant go for it?

Energy Audit :: Why should a Plant go for it?

Energy Audit is an exercise carried out for an Industrial Plant, Thermal Power Plant or a Commercial Facility as a first step towards achieving Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency. As mentioned in one of our previous posts it is a complex technical assessment which results in achieving optimum energy level. 

More often this crucial exercise is carried out for Industrial Plants or Thermal Power Plants as Energy forms a greater component in the production cost. With the ever-rising cost of Energy (Fuel, Coal etc.) and Grid Electrical Power it is a necessary step towards achieving optimum Energy level. The term Specific Energy Consumption (SEC) is commonly used to determine the energy required to manufacture or process a particular unit of plant output (eg. kWh / T for a Steel plant or litres / kWh for a D.G. Set etc.). For an Industrial Plant SEC may include all possible energy that has been used in the product manufacturing or processing and not just electrical power.

There are several reasons why a Plant should ensure a periodic and comprehensive Energy Audit (Thermal + Electrical)., majority of them are :
  1. Energy forms a major component in Production Cost and will continue to increase its share for an Industrial Plant as Energy costs are rising every day. In many cases it is the 2nd largest component in Production cost next only to Labor. Thus an Energy Audit can significantly and positively impact a Plant's Profit & Loss Statement.
  2. Any Industrial Plant undergoes a change due to expansion or modification or modernization - always presenting an opportunity for Energy Optimization. An Energy Audit will thus reveal potential areas to save energy and improve efficiency.
  3. Energy being a topic of high interest - constant innovation takes place with regards to modernization of equipment and retrofits for existing equipment. Energy Audit enables a plant to understand about continuous opportunities in a plant to achieve energy optimization. In fact our post on New Age Industrial Energy Audit focuses on this point.
  4. Several Energy-intensive plants may have a permanent Energy Auditor or Energy Manager. However there are several benefits of an external Energy Audit team which works across various departments - Electrical, Mechanical, Maintenance, Production etc. of a plant. Moreover an external team is better equipped to achieve Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency through energy audit as it brings a focused approach and past experience of several plants which enables in bench-marking including successful case-studies of past implementations.
  5. Contrary to the popular belief an Energy Audit in itself can actually save Energy (Does Energy Audit really save Energy?) without further investments as well. This is the case because the Energy Audit report which is submitted after the Energy Audit contains several key information about the plant such as energy consumption trend, energy calculations, areas for improvement etc. and of course the recommendations. 
  6. The Energy Audit report submitted at the end of the site visit phase (for measurement, collection of data, interaction with plant people etc.). The recommendations in the Energy Audit Report are not always requiring high investment and are in any case having a payback of less than 18 months or in some cases 24 months - which is generally acceptable to the Management. They are categorized into 3 types -
    • ZERO / Low investment recommendations - mainly related to operational changes or utilizing existing resources to optimize energy consumption.
    • Medium investment recommendations - typically the ones with requiring mid-size investments in retrofits or modifications in the existing system for Energy optimization.
    • High investment recommendations - the ones requiring larger investments. (The categorization value is specific to a plant based on various factor such as size, energy consumption, SEC etc.)
  7. Energy Audit in a Plant creates an awareness and a sense of urgency among the Plant personnels which in turn translates into further energy saving. It is established that simple methods of saving energy (such as manually Switching off an equipment when not in use) can be achieved through human intervention. Thus Energy Audit helps a plant to achieve further savings - however small without any investments !
  8. It gives a positive orientation to Preventive Maintenance. This is mainly because although Energy Audit focuses primarily on Energy optimization it also points out areas which can perform better with timely maintenance - thereby enhancing reduced downtime and improved output.
It is thus no surprise that several Plants opt for a periodic Energy Audit to keep a check on the overall Energy consumption and continually achieve Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency. Energy Audit is also a step towards green initiative as it results in achieving Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency. At a higher level an Energy Audit can go a long way in optimizing the consumption of Nation's natural resources. At the Global level an Energy Audit can be a small step towards reducing GHG levels.

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