Industrial Energy Efficiencies on the Path to Decarbonization

Decarbonization is a hot topic at this year’s CERAWeek. In a panel, Industrial Energy Efficiencies: The path to decarbonization, Emerson’s Peter Zornio shared the role that technology can play in this initiative.

Emerson's Peter Zornio on Decarbonization at CERAWeek 2017

Peter pointed out that new sensors have become available that can measure for more than control. Some examples included steam trap monitors, relief valve monitors, and resource efficiency metrics. When these sensors combined with analytics, provide early indicators when energy consumption is not optimum, or a problem is impending.

Moving decarbonization efforts forward takes more than regulations or economic incentives or penalties, it takes cultural changes for companies to own these initiatives. Peter describe exergy as a metric to look at both material and energy usage. The scalable metric could be used to benchmark performance against industry peers and identify opportunities for manufacturers and producers to drive more sustainable operations. See the post, New Models for Resource Efficiency, for more on this metric.

Peter explained that suppliers can play a role in energy efficiency initiatives. The last thing many manufacturers and producers want to do is maintain yet another system. If the energy efficiency monitoring sensors, software and experts are part of a service, then the cost of that service can be compared against the energy savings to clearly show the return on investment. This movement towards a connect services model for energy efficiency is growing.

Education plays a large role in knowing where there are opportunities to look for energy efficiency. There may be simple things such as swapping over to LED lighting versus higher-energy forms of lighting. Another example is looking at current work processes like periodic inspections of steam traps. Continuous monitoring with IIoT-based sensors can identify problems long before they leak and waste energy.

A couple of common themes that came through in this session were that measurements are very important, having carrots and sticks to encourage change are needed, and needing senior leadership to drive improvements.

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