Manage Your Energy Management Program

July 31, 2012
Learn what roles make up a successful energy management program.

Energy management involves managing people, costs and technology, and creating energy cost awareness among plant personnel. Successful energy-management programs require three functional roles, namely, an energy manager, an energy consultant, and an energy auditor. If the energy system isn't large it's very common to see the same person perform all three roles.

An energy-management program should draw upon both internal and external resources, as appropriate. For the program to succeed, an experienced process engineer should lead all activities as an energy manager. The energy manager generally should:

• Initiate and monitor the energy database or energy accounting system — including costs — and report periodically to top management.
• Develop energy consumption targets for the processes within the plant based on best-in-class levels.
• Observe all phases of operation, including production and utilities, to optimize energy consumption.
• Involve all personnel, encouraging energy conservation by developing awareness campaigns, motivational awards and publicity materials.
• Conduct brainstorming sessions to identify energy cost-reduction measures, and review and prioritize them for all units within the plant.
• Coordinate with experienced energy consultants to set realistic energy-consumption targets.
• Establish energy efficiency programs that inspire personnel to ensure management's commitment to achieving energy efficiency targets.
• Utilize an energy accounting system to identify and develop measures to minimize deviations from target.
• Investigate and estimate the initial investment, operating costs and environmental impact of all proposed energy cost-reduction measures (ECMs).
• Determine high-priority ECMs and present these to management for capital approval.
• Coordinate implementation of ECMs with project management and monitor the results once implemented.
• Participate in relevant associations and professional bodies, liaise with research institutes and equipment manufacturers for regular updating of targets.
• Assume responsibility for all energy-management activities within the plant.

Although an energy manager plays the lead role, many companies also rely on external energy consultants to achieve energy cost reductions. Competent energy consultants share their vast experiences across several process industries, with unbiased thinking focused on reducing energy losses.  The energy consultant typically helps the energy manager to:

• Develop a suitable energy cost-reduction strategy for the plant.
• Perform a systematic energy use analysis and set benchmark levels. 
• Determine best practices and set progressive target milestones.
• Evaluate and prioritize possible energy cost-reduction measures.
• Provide case-study references on relevant ECMs and train operating personnel.
• Evaluate vendors and detailed engineering relevant to prioritized ECMs.
• Provide technical assistance and clarifications during ECM implementations.

An energy auditor reviews energy flows within the plant and evaluates the supplied and wasted energy. Typically, energy auditors are external specialists; however, some large companies with multi-site operations maintain their own group of energy auditors. The expected functions of an energy auditor include to:

• Collect and validate plant's energy consumption and costs data.
• Correlate the production or service activity related to the energy use.
• Review the energy procurement processes and available alternatives.
• Gather the relevant process data and make necessary measurements to perform heat and mass balances.
• Identify and classify energy uses as controllable or uncontrollable losses.
• Suggest remedial measures to minimize or eliminate controllable losses.
• Indicate cost benefits of controlling the energy losses to feasible levels.
• Provide simplified methodologies to monitor and report key parameters that correlate to energy use/controllable energy losses.

Successful energy-management programs have an enlightened energy manager who obtains periodic support from external energy consultants and energy auditors. But one undeniable fact in those programs is the continuous support energy managers received from top management.

VEN V. VENKATESAN is Chemical Processing's Energy Columnist. You can e-mail him at [email protected]

About the Author

Ven Venkatesan | Energy Columnist

Ven Venkatesan is a former Energy Saver columnist for Chemical Processing.

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