Exploring the collaboration between energy efficiency and renewable energy sources in the management of energy

Submitted by Mariane Gonçalves on Fri, 03/23/2018 - 14:19
Explorando_colaboração_--eficiencia_energética_energias_renovaveis_gestão_-energia

Understand how energy efficiency and renewable energy contribute to a more effective use of energy resources and how these actions directly impact the routine in areas of energy management.

 

Governments and corporations are largely responsible for the increase in energy demand. According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), global consumption will increase by 28% by 2040. This growth is a consequence of the growth of per captia energy consumption in developing countries and the worldwide population increase, among other social and economic issues. Despite the trend of seeking to implement renewable sources the most common, such as nuclear, coal, etc. are still responsible for three fourths of global consumption, according to data from the EIA.

Given this scenario, there is significant pressure on energy managers to improve the energy matrix of their organizations without increasing costs already present, achieving aspects addressed by the concepts of the Triple Bottom Line, which reflects the idea that sustainability must cover environmental, economic, and social aspects in an integrated way so that the results of a given company are are evaluated by the market and by society in a holistic manner.

Among debates about how to achieve the objectives of reduction of energy consumption, agendas aimed at energy efficiency and renewable energy are presented and are often perceived as having the same connotation. This brings us to the following consideration: do these two topics really have the same meaning? The answer is no, but this could help companies to operate in a more sustainable manner, reduce costs, reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, and mitigate risks.

Understanding more about energy efficiency and renewable energy

Today the consumption of energy and utilities represents one of the largest production costs for many companies.

A first solution to the problem is to implement actions with a focus on energy efficiency, involving adjustments on the factory floor to eliminate waste, maintenance and possible replacement of equipment, as well as improving energy and utilities management processes.

Another approach would involve the review of the organization's own energy matrix, considering the possibility of adopting renewable sources. There are several options, including solar, hydro, and wind generation, etc. These solutions use naturally available inputs (but with significant restrictions of use, as the case with water), thus involving lower environmental impact, but with installation and maintenance costs that remain high.

Sources previously considered "clean" are heavily criticized today due to their environmental and social impact. Let's see some examples:

  • Wind power: visual and noise pollution due to the constant rotation of blades, in addition to the risk to birds;
  • Solar energy: although an abundant source, systems based on solar energy depend on technologies of collection and storage, the production of which has a significant environmental footprint (mining, production process, and wastes including heavy metals);
  • Tidal energy: changes to the speed and intensity of waves can cause erosion on the coast or near it;
  • Biogas energy: storage of biogas is expensive and there are risks of leakage and emission of toxic pollutants;
  • Hydroelectric energy: depending on the extent of wetlands, environmental impacts can significant due to the emission of greenhouse gases; social impacts can be significant as well due to the dislocation of local populations.
     

Various initiatives such as that of energy efficiency, substitution of the energy matrix, and new renewable sources contribute directly to the increase in complexity of management, bringing enormous day-to-day challenges to companies in the areas of energy management, such as the capacity to manage the volume of information delivered and to work in an integrated routine in order to make it possible to achieve planning goals.

Energy and utilities management and its contribution to the energy efficiency of a company

The trend is that energy and utilities management of a company is becoming increasingly complex. Today companies commit to ever-lower levels of energy consumption in various business contracts, demanding practically real-time monitoring of production and planning of the organization. Given this scenario, it is necessary that energy management includes routines, planning, and budget management for the area to reach the desired goals.

Considering management routines, it is important to promote the monitoring of equipment to understand their operation and program the best way form of utilization, as well as track incidents to mitigate the production risks, monitor the emission of pollutants to the atmosphere, and integrate operational, financial, and management systems.

For planning and management, control comes through consumption forecasting, management of energy and utilities contracts, monitoring of invoices, and simulation of future scenarios, adding information for planning that is more consistent with the operational reality and budgeting of the company.

Given the current demands and the trend of increasing complexity of meeting them, energy management teams encounter great difficulties in using information, seeking results, reducing costs, and improving management processes.
The Viridis platform for energy and utilities management provides capabilities to directly support energy efficiency initiatives of industrial organizations, covering functions including monitoring, planning, contracting, costing, simulation, and optimization of energy consumption. The monitoring functions permit the identification of opportunities for process improvement, stratifying energy consumption in terms of different dimensions, in addition to allowing the quantification of gains in terms of costs and greenhouse gas emissions. The integration of monitoring data with planning functions strengthens the efforts of the transformation initiatives, since it confers greater sophistication, consistency, and accuracy in the prediction of future consumption and, consequently, in planning of costs and the comparison with the actual values. Finally, the Viridis platform enables integrated management of projects of continuous improvement with a focus on energy efficiency, seeking strategic alignment from the conception, implementation, and evaluation of the investments carried out by the organization. Learn more about how our products can help your company.


Analista de Marketing, Viridis

Viridis Marketing Analyst, educated in publicity and advertising at PUC Minas, with training courses in the area of digital marketing. Experience in corporate events, strategic planning, and digital marketing. 

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