What should energy saving mean?

The second phase of the UK Government’s ESOS Energy Saving compliance programme is due in 2019. ESOS requires large companies to measure their total energy consumption and audit cost-effective energy saving opportunities.

Schneider Electric is already prompting organisations to start thinking about their audits. But, it reminded me of an energy saving blog from their machine and process management website.

It is difficult to agree with all the points in the article, which does make some good points. It focuses on the importance of direct energy saving rather than energy efficiency. Yet they are closely linked. Although not providing the same headline savings as VSDs for example they often result from energy saving measures. Moreover, there are more opportunities for improving energy efficiency that fan and pump applications.

It is easier to focus on the calculable energy saving from VSDs as opposed to overall equipment efficiency improvements. The savings by improving energy efficiency and useful life are tangible. It is true that using variable speed drives for fans and pump duty motors can provide calculable saving, but what of others? It depends on how we define energy saving, where in the value chain it occurs-and who benefits from it.

Energy saving or asset utilisation

Better use of assets through predictive maintenance improves the mechanical life cycle. We increase the life of gears, bearings, pumps, filters etc. by using VSDs to prevent mechanical shocks and vibration. But it is difficult to provide meaningful mechanical life-time calculations and related saving. These efficiencies clearly save money, although they ignored in terms of energy savings,

Similarly, newer technologies offer remote connection to automation plant using the web. Using them to handle debugging, monitoring and updating makes efficiencies, by avoiding the time and travel costs. Similarly, because VSD can improve the Power Factor (Cos ɸ) close to 1 by automatic regulation of the drive’s internal capacitors. It provides further efficiencies by avoiding the cost of power factor correction equipment (PFC).

Finally, overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is the measure of efficiency and effectiveness of a process. It helps users see and measure productivity. In the same way, we need to consider the important part efficiencies provide as part of energy saving programmes.

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