In my “listening channels”, I saw that Emerson’s Sam Thiara, a member of the global Energy Solutions team, was in the Middle East region for an Energy Conservation forum. He noted that he had recently developed an article for a newsletter for a process manufacturer in the region.
In his article, Sam highlighted the challenges in sustaining energy efficiency projects—benefits erosion is the norm. End users and automation suppliers report complete erosion of energy efficiency benefits within two years if there is not an ongoing effort to sustain the benefits.
Energy consumption is driven by many factors—operations, maintenance, organizational culture, and management. The operating environment continually changes and requires attention to details to hold the gains over time.
Six factors that determine energy efficiency include:
- Adherence to operational targets (and understanding the deviations/corrective actions)
- The role of maintenance in energy performance (equipment efficiency, reliability)
- Employed technology
- The influence of design on performance
- Cultural and competency issues
- Planning and scheduling – balancing yield/margin/energy
Sam pointed to the ISO 50001 Energy Management standard, which began as a project committee in 2008 and was published in June of 2011. ISO 50001 specifies requirements for an organization to establish, implement, maintain and improve an Energy Management System, enabling the organization to take a systematic approach to achieving continual improvement of energy performance.
A key element to sustainable energy efficiency improvements is a formalized management process to establish accountabilities and processes to ensure continuous performance appraisal and identification of improvement actions.
Sam cautions to avoid overly complex models and management processes. Instead, provide the basic checks on management commitment and organization in parallel with a bottom-up, step-by-step approach to technical problem solving. Actions should include reviewing current energy management effectiveness, defining management responsibilities, developing simple performance review processes, and identifying and implementing initial low-level applications for quick wins.
Experience has shown that good energy saving initiatives will not continue to deliver sustainable long-term benefits without the framework of a sound management system. And, high quality process measurement, data management, control and focused reporting forms the foundation for any successful systematic energy management.