The ABCs of Sustainable Energy Management

March 23, 2009
ABB’s Seppo Lahtinen Explores How to Make Energy Management Pay Off Over Both Short- and Long-Term Horizons at ABB's Automation & Power World 2009

Energy management means many things to many companies. But one thing is certain: It matters, especially in these trying economic times and with so much global emphasis being placed on conservation and environmental issues.

With a decided focus on ABB’s relaunch of its cpmPlus Energy Manager product as a cross-industry application, Seppo Lahtinen, product line manager, collaborative production management, ABB Oy, Process Industry, explained the concept of energy management in terms of profitability and sustainability and offered some examples of practical applications at ABB Automation and Power World 2009 held this week in Orlando, Fla.

“We’re all worried about energy prices,” said Lahtinen. “In the long term, they will rise. If you are a company, you use energy. How can you manage it?”

“You must start from the top down,” Lahtinen said in answer. “You have to have some kind of strategy, and you set targets. Once you have a strategy and some targets to address this problem, you start processes, and you look at progress and results. This is a continuous process.”

“Energy management is a continuous process that starts from the top.” ABB’s Seppo Lahtinen explored how to make energy management pay off over both short- and long-term horizons.

Lahtinen offered three formulae for the cost of consumed energy (energy consumption x average unit price); specific energy consumption (total energy consumed/production output); and energy and utility conversion efficiency ((energy/utility output)/(energy/utility input)). “The more output we get with the same amount of energy, the better the specific energy consumption,” explained Lahtinen.

He focused on three areas—price optimization, usage optimization and generation optimization. “In price optimization, we try to get energy consumption as low as possible,” explained Lahtinen. “In usage optimization, we get energy usage as low as possible, while increasing the production output. And in generation optimization, we increase energy/utility output, but reduce energy/utility input.”

To address price optimization, a company would coordinate energy demand and supply and execute energy-consumption predicting, planning and scheduling. This improves energy efficiency and reduces the carbon footprint, said Lahtinen. By synchronizing energy generation, purchase and sales with energy demand, a company can purchase or produce its energy at the lowest market prices and optimize the use of alternative energy sources.

Usage optimization focuses on process control principles, process parameter variation, human factors and equipment that consumes a lot of energy. By finding and implementing the most energy-efficient way to control and run the entire process and by using the most energy-efficient process technology, a company can reduce fuel consumption while improving production at the same time. Performance indicators for usage optimization include measuring the energy consumption/produced unit, the emissions/produced unit and the energy efficiency/energy intensity index.

The optimization of energy generation also looks at distribution and use of utilities in the plant. Utilities can include steam, process heating, cooling, refrigeration, cooling water, compressed air and HVAC. Generation optimization can bring utility energy efficiency, energy conversion efficiency and a carbon footprint reduction, which can be measured by the cost of produced energy, emissions and losses in energy distribution.

For purposes of sustainability, a constant balance between production and consumption is necessary, and an energy savings program needs to be implemented, said Lahtinen. “An awareness of the energy balance and prediction of consumption and production require an energy management system and a savings program with top-management commitment, organization, visibility and tools,” he explained.

The relaunch of cpmPlus Energy Manager, a modular package that is part of ABB’s cpmPlus offering, allows it to work formidably in monitoring consumption across many new industries. ABB offers a variety of tools for process automation, hardware, manufacturing operations, local electrical networks and external power grids. “ABB has energy monitoring and reporting to analyze how much energy is being used,” said Lahtinen. The cpmPlus Energy Manager is suited for energy optimization, including energy price reduction, energy consumption reduction, production efficiency, safety and sustainability.

“The first step is monitoring and reporting,” said Lahtinen. “In the next step, add plant-wide load planning, optimizing and cost accounting to plan energy consumption against energy resources. The third step is to put in a centralized planning and optimization system.”

Key elements in an energy management program can be broken down into business benefits and operational benefits. The business benefits include the ability to produce accurate energy demand forecasts, manage varying energy prices and use several optional sources of energy, explained Lahtinen. “If you know how much energy you are going to be using, that’s a business advantage,” he said. Monitoring efficiency, assigning costs to production centers and reconciliation of periodic energy bills are operational advantages.

Lahtinen also offered three real-world examples of uses of cpmPlus Energy Manager, all of which were implemented within the past three years. A pulp and paper corporation with 10 mills, each with its own power plant, wanted to have a central energy system for dealing with the energy market. It implemented a cpmPlus Energy Manager for each of the 10 mills for measurement interfaces, load planning, and energy monitoring and reporting, as well as a cpmPlus Energy Manager at the central system for energy optimization, site interfaces, energy market interfaces, energy monitoring, reporting and invoicing. It realized total annual savings of $35 million in electricity consumption and a CO2 reduction of 175,000 tons.

A steel mill with blast furnaces, a coking plant, a sintering plant, a lime kiln, a power plant, boilers, district heating, a steel foundry, a ladle furnace, an oxygen plant and rolling mills realized a $2 million savings in electricity consumption and a CO2 reduction of 10,000 tons.

Finally, a real estate management company looked at energy monitoring and reporting with cpmPlus Energy Manager for its buildings, realizing a $400,000 savings in yearly electricity consumption and a CO2 reduction of 2,000 tons.

“Energy management covers many processes and functions,” concluded Lahtinen. “ABB has solutions that cover the breadth of energy management. Savings of up to 25% in energy cost and significant reductions in carbon footprint are possible. Top management commitment is required and a continuously monitored energy management strategy must be employed.”