With energy bills on a steady rise, companies today need to keep a close eye on their costs using monitoring and targeting so they can identify areas where energy is wasted and implement cost saving measures.
Experts estimate that even basic housekeeping of their energy systems can yield low and even no-cost savings, adding up to 5% or more of their energy bill. More formal techniques for energy management can bring this up to 20 or 30 percent of the energy bill, depending on what area of industry the business is in.
The first step is to obtain a site survey through a manufacturer with a reliable reputation. It’s a smart way to identify any processes that can be fixed easily, and they can provide advice on products you can switch to so that you get optimal use of your energy. They also can provide businesses with maintenance and service packages to ensure everything continues to operate at an optimal level.
No matter how sophisticated your energy management techniques are, there is one hard and fast rule. You can’t manage something you don’t have an accurate measure on. For example, using steam is an efficient and popular method of heating in both industry and building services, but you need to have a way for boiler operators to know that their systems are operating efficiently.
To start with, look at the actual boiler. Operators need to ensure that they are getting the most efficient combustion possible.
Most waste is generated when heat is lost as stack gasses exit the furnace. To boost efficiency, you need to create conditions that generate lower levels of flue gas at low temperatures. When extra air is channelled through, more heat is carried away in the flue. Since hotter gas in the flue also draws more energy than gas that is cooler, that causes a drop in stack temperature, boosting boiler efficiency by a percent or more.
Conversely, if not enough air is supplied, the fuel will not combust completely. This means heat transfer surfaces become fouled and there are increased emissions of smoke, carbon monoxide, and soot.
This is why getting the perfect amount of air supply is a balancing act requiring precision. Optimal combustion provides enough excess air to allow the fuel to burn completely. How much excess air is required depends on fuel, ranging from 5-10 percent with gas, 10-15 percent with fuel oil, and 20-30 percent with coal. If you want to ensure optimal fuel burning, try using an instrument such as a temperature probe with a Zirconia O2 system. In addition, if oxygen levels in the stack gas rising over time, it can mean that the system needs some adjustment or repair. Rising temperatures mean tubes need to be cleaned as fouling may be causing heat transfer to become inefficient.
Rapid Transfer Of Heat
In order for heat to be conducted efficiently, transfer surfaces must be clean. Fouling can become a problem even on the wet side of rental boilers. The key is water quality, as solid contaminants in water can cause scale to build up, where it can act as insulation where you don’t want it.
The 2 main areas where contamination occurs are the returning condensate and the feed makeup water. Condensate goes back into the boiler from its condenser after it has been cooled by local water that may be lower in quality. Condensers are also very prone to leaking, making cross-contamination a common problem. Water used for feed is often de-ionised and preheated, as well as chemically treated and deaerated before being fed into the boiler. A failure anywhere in these areas can cause a problem with contamination.
A good way to control contamination is with a regular boiler blowdown, however, you can also dose the feed using chemicals like hydrazine or ammonia to prevent chemicals from getting that far. Monitoring continuously and careful planning is vital when it comes to maintaining good boiler chemistry over the long term. So what is important to watch out for? Some of the important parameters to watch include dissolved oxygen, pH, silica, phosphate, ammonia, conductivity, sodium, hydrazine, and chloride.
In order to maintain proper energy management, it is important to monitor steam metering in the whole system of distribution. Keeping a close eye on metering ensures operators know what is going on at all times. For example, you can use a meter to watch how much consumption individual user processes use onsite. This means your energy manager can improve efficiency with separate bills or targeted measures to save energy employed exactly where they will do the most good. Keeping an eye on trends also allows operators to spot a malfunction as soon as it starts to develop.
The key is to have metering that is accurate. Operators must know the mass of the steam that is moving in the plant as this is equivalent to the flow of energy. Traditional meters for differential pressure, for example, orifice plates, need additional paraphernalia to operate correctly. These can include pressure transmitters and a computer to monitor flow, producing readings for the steam. These can all add up to a big headache when it comes to maintenance.
On the other hand, a swirl meter is easier to maintain and has better accuracy, especially when used in areas where steam flow can vary significantly. Instead of having an accuracy of 2% of the upper range (the maximum orifice plates provide), a swirl meter can give an accuracy rate of 1% over the range of the flow. In addition, swirl meters have a turndown rate that is 5 times better than orifice plates.
A swirl meter relies on static veins located at the meter entrance so that fluid is forced into rotation. The meter uses this to measure how frequent the helical secondary rotation is as it develops within the pattern.
How frequent this secondary rotation occurs is proportional to the flowrate of the fluid, so there compensating for changes in density, temperature, or pressure are not needed. You only need to know the steam’s temperature in order to calculate mass flow.
When companies consider retrofitting meters on a steam system that already exists, swirl meters have an added benefit of being easy to fit nearly anywhere in the system. Many flow meters require a flow that is undisturbed if you hope to get results that are accurate. This means they have to be placed downstream from any bends in the pipe, as well as valves or other types of components that can interfere with readings. Instead of needing an inlet and outlet run that is straight and has diameters of 15 and 5 pipes, the typical requirements of vortex meters, a swirl meter only needs a 3 and 2 diameter pipe in most places.
With fuel costs rising and increasingly stringent environmental rules, the need to have an optimized combustion plant will only go up. Having good monitoring systems can help the efficiency of combustion, extend equipment life, reduce pollution, and lower the number of unplanned stoppages. In other words, it is important to take advantage of energy monitoring if any UK company wants to stay competitive.
Checklist Of Top Tips
Make sure you only generate the amount of energy necessary. Measure your demand and compare this number with what your boiler generates. This ensures you don’t waste steam heating your factory up instead of running your processes.
Monitoring flue gasses can optimize combustion. Using careful monitoring techniques lets operators manage the careful balance between too much air, carrying heat away, and not enough air, leading to fuel waste.
Make sure that the boiler is running at optimum efficiency. For example, it is better to have one boiler running at 60-70% output than to have 2 boilers running at 30% each.
Make sure your instrumentation is accurate and up to date. Modern instruments last longer and have better accuracy. They also have easier maintenance and have less problems with issues like drift.
If you are measuring gas or steam, use mass flow instead of volume flow. It takes 10 times more energy to create a cubic meter of steam at 10 bars than it does at 1 bar, even though it has the same volume.
Are the UK Governments Plans for the Energy Sector Smart?
The revolution in the energy sector marches on, wind turbines and solar panels are harnessing more renewable energy than ever before – so where is it all leading?
The UK government have recently announced plans to modernise the way we produce, store and use electricity. And, if realised, the plans could be just the thing to bring the energy sector in line with 21st century technology and ideologies.
Central to the plans is an initiative that will see smart meters installed in homes and businesses the length and breadth of the country – and their aim? To create an environment where electricity can be managed more efficiently.
The news has prompted some speculation about how energy suppliers will react and many are predicting a price war. This could benefit consumers of electricity and investors, many of whom may be looking to make a profit by trading energy company shares online using platforms such as Oanda – but the potential for good news doesn’t end there.
Introducing New Technology
The plan, titled Smart Systems and Flexibility is being rolled out in the hope that it will have a positive impact in three core areas.
- To offer consumers greater control by making smart meters available for all homes and businesses by 2020. Energy users will be able to monitor, control and record the amount of energy they use.
- Incentivise energy suppliers to change the manner in which they buy electricity, to offer more smart tariffs and more off-peak periods for energy consumption.
- Introduce new standards for electrical appliances – it is hoped that the new wave of appliances will recognise when electricity is at its cheapest and at its most expensive and respond accordingly.
How the Plans Will Affect Solar Energy
Around 7 million houses in the UK have solar panels and the government say that their plan will benefit them as they will be able to store electricity on batteries. The stored energy can then be used by the household and excess energy can be exported to the national grid – in this instance lower tariffs or even payment for the excess energy will bring down annual costs significantly.
The rate of return on energy exported to the national grid is currently between 6% and 10%, but there are many variables to take into account, such as, the cost of battery storage and light levels. Still, those with state-of-the-art solar electricity systems could end up with an annual profit after selling their excess energy.
The Internet of Things
Much of what the plans set out to achieve are linked to the now ubiquitous “internet of things” – where, for example, appliances and heating systems are connected to the internet in order to make them function more smartly.
Companies like Hive have already made great inroads into this type of technology, but the road that the government plans are heading down, will, potentially, go much further -blockchain technology looms and has already proved to be a game changer in the world of currency.
It has already been suggested that the peer to peer selling of energy and exporting it to the national grid may eventually be done using blockchain technology.
“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
Don and Alex Tapscott, Blockchain Revolution (2016)
The upshot of the government’s plans for the revolution of the energy sector, is that technology will play an indelible role in making it more efficient, more flexible and ultimately more sustainable.
4 Case Studies on the Benefits of Solar Energy
Demand for solar energy is growing at a surprising rate. New figures from SolarPower Europe show that solar energy production has risen 50% since the summer of 2016.
However, many people are still skeptical of the benefits of solar energy.Does it actually make a significant reduction in our carbon footprint? Is it actually cost-effective for the company over the long-run?
A number of case studies have been conducted, which indicate solar energy can be enormously beneficial. Here are some of the most compelling studies on the subject.
1. Boulder Nissan
When you think of companies that leverage solar power, car dealerships probably aren’t the first ones that come to mind. However, Boulder Nissan is highly committed to promoting green energy. They worked with Independent Power Systems to setup a number of solar cells. Here were the results:
- Boulder Nissan has reduced coal generated electricity by 65%.
- They are on track to run on 100% renewable energy within the next 13 years.
- Boulder Nissan reduced CO2 emissions by 416,000 lbs. within the first year after installing their solar panels.
This is one of the most impressive solar energy case studies a small business has published in recent years. It shows that even small companies in rural communities can make a major difference by adapting solar energy.
2. Valley Electric Association
In 2015, the Valley Electric Association (VEA) created an 80-acre solar garden. Before retiring from the legislature, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid praised the new project as a way to make the state more energy dependent and reduce our carbon footprint.
“This facility will provide its customers with the opportunity to purchase 100 percent of their electricity from clean energy produced in Nevada,” Reid told reporters with the Pahrump Valley Times. “That’s a step forward for the Silver State, but it also proves that utilities can work with customers to provide clean renewable energy that they demand.”
The solar energy that VEA produced was drastically higher than anyone would have predicted. SolarWorld estimates that the solar garden created 32,680,000 kwh every year, which was enough to power nearly 4,000 homes.
This was a major undertaking for a purple state, which may inspire their peers throughout the Midwest to develop solar gardens of their own. It will reduce dependency on the electric grid, which is a problem for many remote states in the central part of the country.
3. Las Vegas Casinos
A number of Las Vegas casinos have started investing in solar panels over the last couple of years. The Guardian reports that many of these casinos have cut costs considerably. Some of them are even selling the energy back to the grid.
“It’s no accident that we put the array on top of a conference center. This is good business for us,” Cindy Ortega, chief sustainability officer at MGM Resorts told Guardian reporters. “We are looking at leaving the power system, and one of the reasons for that is we can procure more renewable energy on the open market.”
There have been many benefits for casinos using solar energy. They are some of the most energy-intensive institutions in the world, so this has helped them become much more cost-effective. It also helps minimize disruptions to their customers learning online keno strategies in the event of any problems with the electric grid.
4. Boston College
Boston College has been committed to many green initiatives over the years. A group of researchers experimented with solar cells on different parts of the campus to see where they could produce the most electricity. They discovered that the best locationwas at St. Clement’sHall. The solar cells there dramatically. It would also reduce CO2 emissions by 521,702 lbs. a year and be enough to save 10,869 trees.
Boston College is exploring new ways to expand their usage of solar cells. They may be able to invest in more effective solar panels that can generate far more solar energy.
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