Jun 28, 2024

How can energy efficiency support decarbonization efforts?

  • Article
  • GHG emissions
  • Decarbonization
  • energy efficiency

Companies in the industrial sector have long sought to optimize their operating costs and facilities. These issues become especially critical when facilities are in remote areas, and even more so in northern territories where operating costs are very high.

To meet environmental objectives set by various levels of government and combat global warming, the focus is now on lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Industrial companies are also seeking to stand out from the crowd by offering value-added, eco-mindful production methods, thereby minimizing their environmental impact and reducing their carbon footprint to enhance their image. In this context, energy efficiency is a pivotal lever for creating low-carbon systems.

  1. Energy sources and strategy

    Fossil fuels, such as propane, natural gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and fuel oil, are used because they generally require less infrastructure and can be accessed, even in remote regions.Below are the various energy sources commonly employed for similar consumption profiles:

  2. In general, efficient systems require a higher initial investment but provide a return on the initial extra cost and, therefore, offer lower operating costs. The longer the time horizon, the more appealing efficient, low-carbon systems become, provided the investment capital is available.

    Therefore, an effective energy strategy must reflect several criteria:

    • Geographical location: Confirm the availability and capacity of supply infrastructures, as well as applicable transport costs.
    • Consumption profile: Recognize that high-peak demand will require greater infrastructure and have a significant impact on expenses.
    • Costs: Assess both CAPEX (capital expenditure) and OPEX (operating expenditure).
    • Equipment: Consider availability, efficiency (partial and full load), energy quality (temperature, flow/power).
    • GHG emission rate: Align with corporate objectives, corporate image, taxation.

    The energy strategy rests on rigorous analysis to identify the most fitting solutions for all challenges. Investment costs and the amortization period of these investments always weigh heavily in the decision-making process, as they directly impact operational profitability and return on investment. Thus, efficient systems, energy recover energy to mitigate the impact of installed systems and financial package optimization are crucial. This is where energy efficiency, often synonymous with energy conservation, becomes an important tool.

  3. The solutions

    Energy efficiency has two main goals: To consume less and to produce more efficiently, ultimately curbing our carbon footprint. It goes without saying that using efficient equipment (lighting, chillers, boilers, etc.) will reduce energy consumption; however, the gains will be limited. Elevating a plant’s energy efficiency to the next level requires matching different energy needs, wherein one energy output serves as the source of another energy requirement. This approach limits production needs, thereby making it all the more important to lower energy consumption.

    There are many technological solutions, but the subtleties in the right strategy lie in accurately assessing energy needs, selecting the appropriate technologies, ensuring they perform well and planning their implementation in the right order. It’s important to carefully consider how these measures will be incorporated, since one measure can negatively effect another. This means finding the most effective ways to reduce energy consumption and GHG emissions as much as possible while minimizing operating costs and optimizing investment.

    Centralizing systems, such as cooling, heating, compressed air, etc., is another strategy to facilitate energy exchanges, enhancing efficiency at site level. This approach can reduce the amount of installed equipment, streamlines asset maintenance and grants access to more efficient systems.

  4. Criteria

    Energy exchanges are only possible if the existing energy qualities are adequate, specifically in terms of temperatures that allow energy to transfer from one system to another. High-efficiency systems operate under non-standard conditions (flow and temperature) to enable transfers and maximize overall efficiency while consuming less energy. Identifying these diverse energy qualities, often by using the pinch method, and adapting production concepts are crucial steps. Therefore, it’s important to incorporate the development of energy efficiency concepts early in the project definition phase, and thereafter, to make integration easier and minimize impacts.

    Selecting an energy strategy is a wide-ranging exercise that must take into account a number of criteria such as geographical location, budget, environmental impact, timetable and energy rates. This decision will have a significant impact on the quantity of GHGs emitted. Efficient installations need to be thought through upstream and aligned right from the project definition stage.

    Energy efficiency is a key tool for reducing energy consumption by producing energy efficiently and optimizing both investment and operating costs, while maintaining a low carbon footprint. Our experts will be happy to discuss the available solutions with you.

This content is for general information purposes only. All rights reserved ©BBA

Latest publications
See all
A sustainable
tomorrow that starts
Discover our 2022 ESG Report