In many industries, input energy costs have become comparable to those of raw input materials and there are limited resources available to fund energy-saving projects.
In light of this, an appropriately detailed energy assessment would provide an organisation with an in-depth understanding of the potential energy savings that could be achieved and how much investment will be required to achieve these desired outcomes, says physical asset management company Pragma associate consultant Stefan Swanepoel.
He was speaking at a Physical Asset Man-agement conference, hosted by Pragma and maintenance and reliability resources company Realiabilityweb, in Cape Town, at the beginning of June.
“To achieve maximum benefit from an energy audit, it must be well planned, executed and validated with a pragmatic view towards finding value-adding savings interventions. “The audit process includes the development of an audit strategy to the point of prioritising potential savings opportunities. “This process will lead not only to money saving, but also to preserving the planet and its energy resources,” he says.
The approach that needs to be taken includes steps such as the assessment, measurement and analysis of a specific area, as well as the finance, implementation and sustainability of the suggested process, which, in effect, release further finance to implement savings projects.
Once these are complete, the lessons learned must be incorporated in policy and a wider replication of improvements.
Assessment steps include a walk-through, developing site plans and reticulation diagrams; interviews with staff; determining billing history and tariff structures; and identifying selected targets.
“Understanding energy flow as well as accounting for incoming energy are important factors. “Building types and their vintage, location and size are all factors that influence the flow and use of energy. “Further, it needs to be established if the building is on the most cost-effective tariff structure and if the billing is accurate,” he says.
Many other factors also need to be taken into account, such as power factors, oversized transformers, the pump or fan condition, lighting, lifts and escalators, and thermal insulations.
The measurement of energy saving can be managed in a variety of ways, including online, which offers a timely management response to changes and an improved energy consciousness.
Monitoring solutions also offer assessment validation, trend analysis, billing reconciliation, management accountability and carbon credits.“
Analysing these measurements on a weekly and monthly basis will lead management to an improved understanding of the company’s usage patterns, equipment efficiency, tariff suitability and power quality. The analy- sis is, therefore, of the utmost importance as it could lead the company to consider moving activities that contribute to peak demand and higher power costs,”
Finances also need to be considered through realistic assumptions, seasonality and economic conditions, cash flow and off-balance-sheet financing.
The final step is the incremental implementation of all mitigatory actions, taking into consideration these factors.
Swanepoel emphasises the importance of following a structured approach to allow for validation of the incremental changes. Once this is achieved, savings need to be sustained through awareness, accountability, company culture, managed asset care and external audits.
“This process then needs to be replicated to ensure further savings in costs and energy,” concludes Swanepoel.