Energy Management in the Process Industries
Compared with the 1970s, the 1980s proved to be a relatively stable period for world energy prices and in the process industries the drive for improved energy efficiency that was spurred by the oil crises of the previous decade was overtaken by an oil price fall.
Coincidentally, the 1980s were years of relatively strong economic growth and so the focus of management shifted to business priorities such as securing profits, improving product quality, reducing operating costs other than energy and, more recently, environmental protection.
The Australian process industries’ consumption of primary energy is about 1.1 million TJ per year at a cost of over $5 billion. Overseas experience suggests that savings of at least 20%, worth over $1 billion per year, should be achievable using proven technology.
SEEKING WORLD’S BEST PRACTICE IN ENERGY EFFICIENCY
By early 1990 it was clear that energy efficiency had fallen further behind in Australia than it had in comparable sectors in USA and in Europe. Given that Australian processing industries were dominated by sectors in which energy represented a relatively large proportion of total operating costs, that relationship could not continue if international competitiveness was to be improved and sustained. Consumption of primary energy in the Australian process industries was about 1.1 million terajoules (TJ) a year at a cost of over $5 billion. Overseas experience suggested that savings of at least 20 percent, worth over $1billion a year, were achievable using proven methodology.
The objectives of this project were:
- To determine the scope for energy savings in a representative sample of process industries;
- To recommend appropriate initiatives to promote the implementation of energy efficient technology in those industries.
CASE STUDIES AND SITE SURVEYS
The project included a Steering Committee of twenty-nine members and seventeen Project Fellows in addition to Visiting Fellow Dr Greg Ashton. Their key activities were case studies and site energy surveys.
For the case studies, the project team carried out detailed evaluations on five process plants chosen because each offered some feature that was likely to lead to more widely applicable recommendations. The main aim of each case study was to evaluate existing energy management methodology, to determine the most appropriate improvements and to demonstrate how these improvements could be applied.
APPROPRIATE COST-EFFECTIVE POLICIES
The project aimed to identify the most appropriate and cost effective policy initiatives that would help reduce process industry energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. On that basis, its recommendations fell into three areas:
ESTABLISH AN ENERGY TECHNOLOGY SUPPORT UNIT
It recommended that a unit of this kind should be attached to an existing technology organisation, such as CSIRO or ANSTO. A priority action should be to demonstrate and promote basic energy management techniques based on ‘monitoring and targeting’ principles. An additional benefit of this initiative would be to encourage the development of energy consultancy businesses.
THE PROJECT IDENTIFIED THE POTENTIAL FOR SUBSTANTIAL ENERGY SAVINGS: