Energy surveys – why are they needed?
Energy surveys (also known as “Audits” or “Assessments”) can be viewed with some trepidation. The worry is that someone is going to come in, review your process and equipment, then tell you (or worse your boss) how the job you’ve been doing for years could be done better.
But it’s not a criticism of a busy Manager or Engineer to say he/she doesn’t know all there is to know about energy efficiency or renewable energy. Often, it is just one of several roles an individual may perform, alongside Health & Safety, Environmental control, IPPC reporting, etc. Also, as many of the others have been legislation driven for some years; energy can easily get marginalised.
Secondly, energy is a very diverse and complex field, covering legislation and policy, accounting, management system tools, low-carbon energy sources as well as the plethora of sector-specific or cross-sector technologies. Nobody I know claims to be an expert in everything, and these are the guys who spend their lives working in the field.
Seeking external advice via energy surveys is a prudent way of accessing decades of knowledge and experience. Typically, surveys can identify 10-30% energy cost savings, often with the bonus of similar cost-savings in raw materials, wastes arising or reduced O&M costs. And all these are straight profit.
Over the years, Paul has carried out about 150 Energy Surveys of industrial and commercial sites throughout the World. These have varied from:
- Short 0.5 – 1 day “walk-through” audits, combined with brief interviews with Senior Management, through to…
- More comprehensive 2-4 day surveys, particularly of larger/ more complex sites;
- “Detailed” studies of a site or organisation and all its key energy centres, sometimes requiring multiple visits to the site by a team of energy specialists, each lasting 5-10 days, and finally…
- Detailed studies of a specific EE, RE or heat recovery opportunities; taking the basic idea identified in the general audit and working it up into a pre-feasibility opportunity.
No two surveys are the same; the type of Organisation, its size, the nature of the work, the opportunities available, the funds available and the people issues (not to mention the amount of time allocated) are all different, so it’s never the proverbial “handle turning”.
RPEC and ESOS
Based on his experience, Paul was admitted to the Energy Institute’s “Register of Professional Energy Consultants” in 2012 (see http://www.energyinst.org/ information-centre/consultants-directories/rpec).
This, in turn, led to ESOS Accreditation scheme in December 2014. ESOS (Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme) – administered by the EA – is UK Government’s take on the EU “Energy Efficiency Directive 2012/27/EU” for mandatory Energy Assessments of all non-SME Organisation. An estimated 10,000 Organisations qualified for ESOS, phase 1 finished in December 2015, phase 2 is due for completion in December 2019.
There were two main routes by which an organisation could meet ESOS reporting requirements:
- Conducting energy audits of 90% (or a representative 90%) of their UK estate, or
- Having ISO50001 certification for > 90% of their estate.
Given the tight time-frame for ESOS phase 1 delivery, the vast majority of organisations chose the energy survey route, although many independent consultants (Paul included) expressed concern that some of the surveys were essentially “tick-box” exercises, primarily aimed at avoiding prosecution.
Also, many consultants (again, Paul included) believe that a good proportion of these organisations would benefit longer-term from working towards a formal energy management system and ISO50001 certification (click here). Given that ESOS phase 2 deadline is still over3 years away, this gives them plenty of time to commit, plan, initiate then develop an effective and robust EnMS that can be professionally certified by an accredited body in time to meet the phase 2 deadline.
Better quantifying opportunities
As well as technical knowledge and experience, it is also important to be able to measure how and where energy is being consumed and, by inference, wasted at a site.
For this, Paul has recently expanded his monitoring equipment: thermal imaging, power monitoring, flue-gas analysis, ultrasonic leak detection, lux metering, air movement sensors, etc. These are more useful for detailed assessments of particular energy centres. Better details are given in the Energy Audit equipment section (click here).