Thursday, October 4, 2018

Energy efficiency is a bigger and cheaper resource than currently assumed

October 3, 2018

Our capacity for energy efficiency is much greater than climate models assume, according to an editorial published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research Letters.

Energy expert Amory Lovins, co-founder and chief scientist of Rocky Mountain Institute, says that the potential for energy efficiency has been massively understated, and its cost overstated, by analysing individual components and systems rather than whole buildings, vehicles and factories. This overlooks valuable ways to help the parts work together to save more energy at lower cost.

Current thinking on climate change suggests that we need to use energy at least 3% more productively each year in order to stay below 2 degrees of global warming. Lovins argues that, in both newbuild and retrofit applications, the world's ability to sustain such rapid savings is far greater than previously thought.

While the cost of renewable energy has fallen significantly in the past decade, energy efficiency had been assumed to cost more as the cheapest methods are exhausted. However, this widespread assumption was based on economic theory not engineering practice.

"In the same way that no one expected the cost of solar and wind to plummet, driving faster adoption that cuts their cost further," Lovins said, "we have overlooked the ability of modern energy efficiency to do the same thing."

The paper, titled 'How Big Is the Energy Efficiency Resource?', highlights the importance of "integrative design" in achieving the full potential for saving energy, emissions and money.

"Integrative design makes bigger savings cost less because it doesn't add stuff; it leaves stuff out," Lovins explained. "It designs energy-using systems not as isolated components but as a whole, so the parts work together to create bigger savings than the sum of the parts."

Lovins claims that the impact of energy savings is currently three times that of renewables.

"Both are vital; both reinforce each other; but it is the sum of both parts that matters for climate. Renewables, however, get nearly all the headlines, because unused energy is invisible."

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

EU funds development of smart consumption management system

August 22, 2018

A new system designed to reduce electricity consumption in the industrial sector has been developed as part of a European Union initiative.

The EU-funded EFICONSUMPTION project set out to improve the energy efficiency of industrial buildings based on the monitoring, modelling and smart management of electricity consumption.

To do this, it addressed the problem of electrical energy efficiency from the perspective of reducing harmful emissions while also benefiting the business more directly.

"Electric energy savings, on the one hand, thanks to a more efficient and effective consumption, in turn determines lower CO2 emissions," said Vicente Rodilla, project coordinator and CEO of CYSNERGY SL. "On the other, savings lead to business activities that are developed with a greater degree of sustainability and higher return."

According to the European Commission's CORDIS website, the project partners analysed real industrial data to implement improvements and modifications that reduced electricity consumption by up to 40%. This fed into the development of a smart consumption management system.

The new solution combines CYSMETER, a device for measuring the main electricity parameters at any point, and CYSCLOUD, a software cloud platform that receives real-time data and establishes efficient consumption patterns to reduce electricity consumption in accordance with the international standard ISO 50001.

The system has already been successfully tested at several plants in Spain and in other countries.

"Efficient consumption of electrical resources, predictive maintenance and electricity savings are the most relevant benefits of the EFICONSUMPTION technology, particularly for industrial production plants and buildings," Rodilla concluded. "It's a win-win proposition, profiting the EU economy, boosting the competitiveness of European industry and positively impacting the environment."

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Thursday, August 2, 2018

Five steps to improving manufacturing efficiency

July 25, 2018

Many manufacturers still lack visibility of the energy performance of devices and equipment running in their plants.

If you want to make efficiency improvements and save costs but don't know where to start, a recent blog post from UK energy provider Centrica Business Solutions sets out five steps for manufacturers to follow:

Step 1: Get buy-in from the rest of the business

This is a critical first step and must involve everyone from the top executives to the shop technicians. Set out the problem and business need, supported by statistics and data, and involve the whole team in creating a resolution that improves processes and shows sustainable ROI.

Step 2: Set achievable goals

Employees will lose their motivation if you set a target that's impossible to reach.

To improve manufacturing operations and cut costs, companies must set realistic, measurable goals, Centrica Business Solutions says. These goals should be based on real data from systems and devices used within the manufacturing process.

Step 3: Monitor devices

Smart sensors on machinery and equipment can help manufacturers to monitor their operations and understand energy consumption at each stage of the manufacturing process.

With capabilities such as real-time notifications that alert users to a system fault or potential downtime, manufacturers can make informed decisions about management and consumption. Up-to-date information from smart monitoring also enables system-wide improvements to be made.

Step 4: Improve maintenance schedules

Aggregated energy data can be used to identify systemic issues relevant to energy-intensive production assets. Optimise maintenance schedules with heavy energy consumption to take advantage of lower energy costs during off-peak hours.

Manufacturers can also realise efficiency gains by transitioning from preventative maintenance of equipment to predictive maintenance. This saves costs as equipment is less likely to fail and any issues are identified ahead of time.

Step 5: Empower employees

Engage your employees in the effort to improve operational efficiency and reduce energy consumption by arming them with information about the negative impacts of poor energy efficiency, and the positive effects of their behaviour.

There are multiple ways to make your manufacturing operations more energy efficient, but this five-step plan will put you on a path to success!

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Friday, July 20, 2018

Digital technologies set to revolutionise manufacturing

July 18, 2018

Digital technologies are reshaping the manufacturing landscape, says a new report from Capgemini's Digital Transformation Institute.

According to the report, the global manufacturing industry could see up to $685bn in value-added revenue by 2020 through the development and sale of smart, connected devices.

But while the potential returns are significant, manufacturers that want to benefit will need to increase their digital capabilities and invest in digital continuity.

The research examines how manufacturers are balancing two priorities: using digital tech to get legacy products to market quicker, while investing in new smart products that allow them to derive revenues from services.

Capgemini notes that many firms have responded enthusiastically to new technologies and are already rebalancing their IT investments accordingly. Around 50% of manufacturers aim to spend more than €100m on Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) platforms and digital solutions in the next two years, while the proportion of IT budget earmarked for maintaining legacy systems has dropped significantly, from 76% in 2014 to 55% in 2017.

Yet few companies are making significant progress in transforming their approach to innovation and engineering. Among firms that are lagging behind, there is little data-sharing or digital continuity across the product lifecycle, they are not making adequate use of digital technologies, they are not making effective use of their partner ecosystem, and they lack employees with the new skills needed.

Companies that have successfully transformed engineering and product innovation, meanwhile, display a range of characteristics that represent best practices, Capgemini said: they have a concrete digital vision and roadmap, make better use of the partner ecosystem, invest more in digital technologies, recruit talent in digital skill-sets, and create a culture of experimentation and agility.

Jean-Pierre Petit, head of digital manufacturing at Capgemini, commented: "With the significant potential gains of smart, connected products and digital continuity predicted in the next two years, the requirement to invest in new technologies is too large for manufacturers to ignore. However, the road to getting there is a challenging one. Manufacturers must balance the priorities between sustaining their core businesses while investing in digital acceleration. They must make investments in digital skills, ecosystems, tools, roadmaps and new ways of working.

"It will be a lot of work, but for those that get it right there is a sustainable leadership to gain."

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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

How industrial firms can cut their energy consumption

In commercial and industrial buildings, as in the home, monitoring your energy usage is the first step to taking control of your energy bills.

Once you know which systems in your facility use the most energy, it makes it much easier to understand where savings could be made, explains lighting consultant Daisy Energy in a recent article.

However, there are many things that can be done -- with or without an energy audit -- to reduce the energy consumption of your business.

Here are eight top tips:

1. Changing shifts to avoid peak energy costs: If your energy provider offers variable rates, find out when the highest and lowest charges apply and think about adjusting employee shifts and machine operating times to off-peak hours.

Similarly, demand side response incentivises a business to reduce consumption or switch to on-site energy generation resources in response to signals when demand on the grid is at its highest.

2. Daylighting: Using skylights and windows to bring natural light into your building can reduce the need for artificial lighting, and the latest energy efficient windows won't cause heating or cooling issues.

In existing structures, adding windows to the North-facing wall of your building will provide relatively even light, with little glare and almost no unwanted summer heat gain, Daisy Energy says.

3. Lighting controls and energy-efficient lighting: With energy consumption from lighting ranging from 35-75% of a business's total energy usage, using lighting controls such as dimmers, motion sensors, occupancy sensors, photosensors and timers can have a big impact on costs and extend the life of your lighting.

Switching to LED lighting is another sure-fire way to cut energy costs as it uses at least 75% less energy and lasts 25 times longer than incandescent lighting.

4. Building recommissioning: This involves investigating, analysing and optimising the performance of equipment and building systems to ensure they are at optimal operating capacity.

According to Industrial Controls, studies show that this process can lead to reductions of 10-15% in annual energy costs.

5. Reduce the load put on the HVAC system: Make sure air vents are clear of obstructions, and properly seal doors, windows and roofs. A programmable thermostat allows you to program automatic adjustments in temperature in different areas at different times, to ensure no air is being circulated in unoccupied areas. Re-directing waste heat from the factory floor to heat water and warm spaces also decreases the load on the HVAC system and increases energy efficiency.

6. Service compressors and motors to keep everything running efficiently.

7. Turn off equipment not in use.

8. Motivate all employees to take responsibility for energy savings: Invite workers to contribute energy saving ideas; recognise those who reduce their consumption; and educate all employees about new energy-saving equipment, sensors and practices.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Demand response flexibility can cut energy bills by 10%

June 13, 2018

Industrial users can reduce their energy bills by up to 10% by participating in demand response programmes, according to the UK's Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE).

With demand-side response, energy users vary the amount of electricity they use at certain times in response to a signal or incentive from their energy supplier. For example, they can power down certain equipment for a while, use on-site generation and/or battery storage technology, and use more power when supply is plentiful.

Businesses that are able to be flexible in their energy use can benefit from price fluctuations in the energy market and receive payments for reducing how much energy they use at times of peak demand or when the capacity of the grid is constrained for technical reasons.

A joint report from ADE and RenewableUK says that UK industry is not yet taking full advantage of the significant cost and carbon savings available from demand response and flexible grid services.

The report, 'Industrial competitiveness in a low carbon world', sets out a new model of industrial energy use in which industrial firms are able to boost their competitiveness while also helping the UK to achieve its decarbonisation targets through active participation in the energy market.

ADE director Dr Tim Rotheray explained how, despite often being presented as being mutually exclusive, there is clear alignment between decarbonisation and industrial competitiveness.

"New business models reveal the sleeping potential for flexibility embedded in industrial processes which can be harnessed without disruption to core activities. By tapping into this potential and creating a more flexible power system, we can create a win-win situation for industry and deliver cost-effective decarbonisation," he said.

"A more flexible power system creates a stable power grid, which can then accommodate more renewable energy to meet our decarbonisation targets at least cost. The industrial energy users providing flexibility also benefit with lower energy bills and increased competitiveness when operating in a decarbonising global economy."

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Friday, June 1, 2018

Energy efficiency allows firms to tap 'hidden fuel'

May 31, 2018

At a time when the global demand for power is continuing to rise, energy efficiency is comparable to a new source of energy within the global power grid.

In fact, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has described energy efficiency as the world's "hidden fuel" because of the huge energy savings that can be made.

An article for Investing News Network (INN) gives the example of heating systems in two commercial buildings -- one standard and one energy efficient. The building with the energy efficient system can provide the same level of energy at a lower cost, thereby reducing operating costs for the business and increasing net operating income.

A 2009 report from the United Nations found that "the building sector has the largest potential for delivering long-term, significant and cost-effective greenhouse gas emission reductions," while National Resources Canada has stated that energy efficiency, achieved through retrofits and other means, is a "high-volume, low-cost approach to reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions."

One way of improving a building's energy performance is through its windows, INN noted. Properly treated or glazed windows reduce heat gain by reflecting heat energy, and can reduce the amount of air conditioning needed to offset temperature rises.

Bigger projects like replacing a heating system or re-insulating the building are known as deep-energy retrofits.

"Due to their disruptive and cost-intensive nature, deep-energy retrofits are usually triggered by non-energy-related factors, such as a significant change in building occupancy. However, taking the opportunity to replace these components with energy-efficient options can lead to substantial savings," said Paul Ghezzi, chief executive of energy efficiency specialist Kontrol Energy.

Internet of Things (IoT) hardware and energy management software can help firms get a clearer picture across the business and detect areas of high energy consumption.

The technology essentially turns a building into a live system of connected devices reporting information in real time, INN said.

"Through this real-time energy management, building owners and assets managers gain access to deep analytical profiles of how energy is used and also where there are potential for improvements and savings," Ghezzi explained.