Smart Energy : a strategic goal for tomorrow’s industry

Already more efficient, intelligent and human, but not only : smart industries will also use energy more responsibly

Energy efficiency is not a new concern for the industry, it is far from it. But the energy consumption audits required by the end of 2015, the ISO 50001 standard, the increasing cost of energy and financial incentives are prompting the industry to tackle the problem head-on.

In conjunction with environmental considerations and the prospect of reducing spending on energy to boost competitiveness, energy performance has become a major goal for industrial undertakings. Energy optimisation is a key part of smart industry. It is achieved through measures ranging from simple, easily implemented changes to in-depth industrial process overhauls. “In the future, industry will put more emphasis on energy efficiency, while keeping the methods currently used: reducing energy losses, using energy-saving equipment, recovering heat that would otherwise be lost, and so on. The next step will be to make everything smart,” says Jan Meeuwesen, Energy Efficiency Consultant at Actemium in Belgium.

Energy performance – a new way to raise competitiveness

By investing in energy-efficient equipment, applying innovative solutions and tracking waste, the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) estimates that the French industrial sector could achieve 20% energy savings by 2030. The food processing and machinery sectors have the widest scope for gains, given their high consumption, but all industries can make savings. In a highly competitive business environment, energy efficiency is a substantial competitiveness driver.

Smart energy – how can energy performance be improved?

A variety of solutions – ranging from audits to technical changes, optimised settings, introduction of an energy management information system and employee awareness raising to draw attention to waste – are available and can be adapted to the requirement, the proposed investment and the targeted degree of energy savings.

Energy efficiency programmes generally start with an audit to identify existing consumption patterns and draw up an energy map of the site that can be used to define Energy Performance Indicators (EPIs) to be tracked.  This then becomes possible to recommend improvements which may relate to technical operations, settings, processes or behaviour.

The introduction of monitoring tools makes it possible to obtain clear-cut data that can be used to better understand and predict consumption or to define alerts that ensure rapid action when a workstation is over-consuming. This type of tool is used to effectively coordinate the energy management system, which may be covered by the ISO 50001 certification.

Changing the lighting is the first step towards energy efficiency. It is simple and easy to implement, requires limited investment and achieves gains on a variety of levels.

For example, Actemium enabled a Häagen-Dazs site in Arras, France to cut the energy consumption of its industrial refrigeration equipment by 20%, a considerable saving given that industrial refrigeration accounts for more than 65% of the site’s overall energy use.

Changes in lighting also have the potential for achieving substantial savings without undertaking major retrofits. “Changing the lighting is the first step towards energy efficiency. It is simple and easy to implement, requires limited investment and achieves gains on a variety of levels,” says Actemium Energy Efficiency Engineer Juliane Jundt. Actemium introduced solutions at the PMG site in Spain that enabled the client to reduce energy consumption by 68%.

Smart energy – innovating audit methodology

Actemium is a member of PS2E (Paris-Saclay Efficacité Energétique) Energy Transition research and training institute charged by the French government and ADEME with developingin-depth energy efficient audit methodologies. “Industrial processes, the focus of Actemium’s expertise, account for two-thirds of the energy consumed by industry. To achieve maximum savings, it is important to study the process in detail. This can be difficult to do since industrialists are often reluctant to discuss their plant and equipment,” says Juliane Jundt.

As part of this process, Actemium performs systemic audits, an innovative method that analyses the production system as a whole. “In this type of audit, rather than focusing on ways to save energy savings in the major consumption items, we look at the issue the other way around: we ask how much energy is needed to produce the final product and then determine whether the equipment is designed accordingly,” says Juliane Jundt. “This type of audit gives industrial managers a different perspective while identifying process inefficiencies and defining energy performance indicators that can be used to coordinate energy use.” The Compagnie des Fromages and RicheMonts (CF & R) site in Vire, France was the first to undergo a PS2E audit.

Predicting consumption to optimise energy purchases

Gaining a better understanding of consumption patterns also makes it possible to predict consumption and thus to anticipate and optimise energy spending. As smart grids and smart meters become more available, energy savings solutions such as demand-response systems, which are not yet in widespread use, can be introduced to coordinate energy needs and availability. All this information can be processed to better manage energy consumption.