Wednesday, 17 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.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Does Energy Audit really save energy?


Energy Audit is the first step towards Energy Conservation & Energy Efficiency. In fact Energy Audit itself may consist of 3 steps i.e. Preliminary Analysis, Walk-through Energy Audit (aka Express Energy Audit) and Detailed or Comprehensive Energy Audit.

The steps may sometimes be combined but some Companies may skip a step or in some cases combine them as well. Express Energy Audit is used by Companies to only estimate the potential energy saving in the plant. Although finding out visible areas of savings are possible through Express Energy Audit. With regards to Detailed Energy Audit., it definitely digs in deeper to identify all possible energy saving opportunities within the plant. A well-documented report with recommendations backed by data is the outcome of detailed Energy Audit. Do visit our website to know more about each type of 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 -

  1. Misconception that Energy Audit in itself would save a lot of Energy.
  2. Energy Audit being carried out by inexperienced and incompetent teams.
  3. Recommendation implementations not taking place resulting in no conclusive outcome of Energy Audit.
  4. Recommendation implementations not approved despite good savings potential.

Etc. Etc.

[Can Solar Energy Projects work across India?]

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 6-8% 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 -

Energy Audit, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency


[Is Solar Energy really afforable?]

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 (SEC) or Specific Power Consumption (SPC) should be closely monitored as an ongoing practice to achieve good results. It is known fact that energy saving is not a destination but a journey.

Updates of Oct 2019
Based on our past experience a Company can save anywhere between 5% to 12% on Energy Bills. This includes - Electricity Bill, Fuel Bill (Diesel, F.O., Coal, LPG etc.). For a typical plant this could mean savings of 2% to 5% on it's production costs.

The range of energy saving is based on our past experience of 300+ Energy Audits and is based on practically implementable solutions. We are in the process of documenting energy savings achieved through energy audit assignments by preparation of a Comprehensive Report with data for a variety of Industries. For now you might find it useful to download our Energy Audit Case-Study for a recent assignment. The customer was able to save 10% Energy and consequently 2.5% on production costs.

Download the Energy Audit Case-Study to know more about details of the Energy Audit, our approach, findings, recommendations etc. for this plant.

If you are planning for Energy Audit, there are certain things that you should be aware of. Why not check our blog post on the subject - Energy Audit planning - things to know !

Sunday, 26 February 2012

What is an Electrical Energy Audit?

Electrical Energy Audit forms an integral part of an Industrial Energy Audit. It is one of the 2 main forms of energy that is being audited and accounted for during Energy Audit. For some of the Industries which do not have Thermal Utilities an Energy Audit will only consist of Electrical Energy Audit.

Electrical Energy Audit consists of Studying, Assessing, Measuring and Analyzing electrical utilities. In a typical  Plant the electrical utilities consists of
  • Substations and / or Transformers
  • Power Distribution System (PCC, MCC)
  • Metering and Monitoring System
  • Motors
  • Blowers, ID / FD Fans
  • Compressors
  • Pumps
  • Lighting
Etc.

[Suggested Read - Does Energy Audit really Save Energy?]

Additionally Electrical Energy Audit also consists of Power Quality Analysis. Study and Analysis of Harmonics forms the main constituent of Power Quality issues. Other Power Quality issues include Sag, Swell, Voltage Fluctuations etc. During the audit sophisticated instruments such as Power Analyzer (Single phase and Three Phase), Harmonics Analyzer, Megger etc. are used by Certified Energy Auditors and Energy Managers to carry out measurements of various electrical utilities. Analysis of electrical consumption is done based on these measurements.

Further to this analysis of electricity bills, energy consumption trends, bench-marking inline with process requirement is also carried out.

[Suggested Read - What is Solar Energy (focus on Solar PV)?]

The report mainly consists of detailed analysis of the measurements, tables, pictures, graphical depictions and important calculations. Energy saving recommendations along with payback / RoI calculations are also included in the Energy Audit report. The recommendations may range from operational changes to retrofits and major changes. However based on our past experience it has been observed that Energy Audit itself may result in overall savings of 2-7% and with retrofit and other recommendations can result in savings of around 20%.

Friday, 24 February 2012

What is Energy Audit Report?

Energy Audit Report is a Comprehensive report which is submitted at the end of the Energy Audit. It generally covers up all the phases of Energy Audit including Walk-through Energy Audit, Preliminary Data Analysis, Detailed Energy Audit, Detailed Data Analysis, Savings Calculations and Recommendations.

In case of Industrial Energy Audit it is imperative to study and analyze the data in advance before carrying out actual Energy Audit by site visit.

It consists of various aspects of Energy including :

  • Non-technical aspects such as Energy Consumption Pattern, Billing Details, Metering and Monitoring Systems, Trends etc.
  • Technicalities about Electrical Utilities beginning with Transformers, Motors, Distribution Systems, Compressors, Blowers, Pumps, Fans etc.
  • Technicalities about Thermal Utilities including Boilers, Cooling Towers, Heat Exchangers etc.
  • Mechanical Analysis of Utilities such as Blower, Compressor, Pump - Performance, Efficiency Analysis, Process requirement etc.
  • Power Quality Study and Analysis (Harmonics, Sag, Swell, Flicker etc.)
  • Industry and Sector Bench marking.
  • Saving recommendations with appropriate Observations and Calculations.
  • Vendor List for Recommendations
Etc.

This is a general content of a Energy Audit Report. The actual content may vary from Industry to Industry. Needless to say an Energy Audit Report should contain necessary graphs, tables and calculations which support the recommendations.

[For first timers or beginners - the Energy Audit Checklist will prove beneficial.]




Saturday, 18 February 2012

Energy Optimization - here to stay....

Energy Optimization is here to stay and there are reasons to believe it - atleast in India. With 15% peak deficit which is expected to widen further with rapid growth and Industrialization. Well this is just not the reason but one of the most startling facts that should ensure that Energy Optimization becomes a routine rather than a specialized exercise.

Reason # 1 : India continues to grow rapidly with several expansions and new Industries seeing the light of the day. To support these Industries by relying only on power generation will not be possible and we can certainly see renewed and long-term interest in Energy Optimization. Perhaps it will result in further interest in the form of Government initiatives.

Reason # 2 : With nearly 70% of power from Fossil fuels there is a huge dependence on the same. It has been witnessed in the past (Gulf War etc.) that certain instances can certainly influence the pricing and availability of fossil fuels. There is a gradual shift in focus from reducing dependence on fossil fuels by going for alternative options like Solar Power. However without Energy Optimization a holistic approach to solving the power problem may not be seen. It therefore makes considerable sense to adopt Energy Efficient approach by initiating an Energy Audit.

[Suggested Read - Does Energy Audit really Save Energy?]

Reason # 3 : Large-scale initiatives require Government support. Energy Saving Certificates or E-Certs are Government initiatives to encourage Industrial Plants (especially Energy intensive Industries) to opt for Energy Optimization. This is just the beginning and hence we expect greater action going forward. Moreover there is already a Government directive to penalize Industrial plants which are not adopting energy efficient means of operation.

Reason # 4 : Power deficit and increased demand translates into increased prices. The power prices have already risen several times in the past. This will continue to rise further thanks to coal shortage and freeing up of Coal prices. In a nutshell there would be no option but to go in for comprehensive measures to optimize energy usage and most of it would be outsourced to experts.

There are other reasons which shall be discussed in the next posts.....