ENERGY EFFICIENCY – A POWERFUL TOOL FOR DECARBONIZATION & NET-ZERO

Bibek Roy

INTRODUCTION:

In the pursuit of a sustainable and environmentally conscious future, the role of energy efficiency stands out as a powerful tool for achieving decarbonization and progressing towards a Net-Zero paradigm.

There are multifaceted benefits like:

  • Prioritizing energy efficiency
  • Emphasizing its impact on reducing carbon emissions
  • Enhancing sustainability
  • Contributing to economic and technological advancements

WHY NET-ZERO & DE-CARBONIZATION?

The world at present is undertaking the net-zero transition, an ambitious effort to reach net-zero emissions of CO2 and reduce emissions of other greenhouse gases (GHGs).

The goal of the transition is outlined in the Paris Agreement adopted at the United Nations in 2015:

“To limit global warming above pre-industrial levels to well below 2.0°C, and ideally to 1.5°C.”

Doing so would reduce the odds of initiating the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.

 According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), limiting warming to 1.5°C would require reducing GHG emissions by 43 percent between 2019 and 2030 and cutting net emissions of CO2 to zero by around 2050.

COP-28 (Conference of Parties) major Focuses:

Recently concluded COP-28 in the first quarter of Dec 2023, major focuses are as follows:

The Global Decarbonization Accelerator (GDA) sets out a set of actions aimed at decarbonizing the existing energy system and building the energy system of the future.

  • 3x renewables and 2x the rate of energy efficiency:

118 governments committed to tripling renewables and doubling the rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030. 

Achieving net-zero emissions from the energy sector by 2050 rests on the world’s ability to triple renewable-energy capacity by 2030.

  • Hydrogen: There were other initiatives included in the GDA, such as the UAE Hydrogen Declaration of Intent, with 39 countries endorsing a global hydrogen certification standard. 

Hydrogen is a versatile energy carrier that could help decarbonize hard-to-abate sectors. Based on announced projects, hydrogen supply could increase by almost 40 times by 2030.

Cooling: The Global Cooling Pledge, signed by over 60 countries, is aimed at reducing emissions from cooling by 68 percent by 2050.

Cooling equipment represents 20 percent of electricity consumption in buildings. Getting on track for net zero by 2050 requires more efficient coolers, new designs, and behaviour changes like setting thermostats slightly higher.

  • Oil and gas decarbonization: The O&G Decarbonization Charter was signed by 50 companies accounting for more than 40 percent of global oil and gas production. 

The signatories committed to net-zero operations by 2050 across Scope 1 and 2 emissions (that is, focused on emissions from production, not from use), near-zero methane in upstream operations by 2030, zero routine flaring by 2030, and increased transparency in emissions reporting.

From the above declarations it can be easily seen that ENERGY EFFICIENCY is in the HOT SEAT for DE-CARBONIZATION & towards achieving NET-ZERO by 2070, in case of India.

What is Energy Efficiency?

Energy efficiency in a simple way means using less energy to perform the same task – with a FOCUS on, eliminating energy waste.

Major Benefits of Energy Efficiency

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions,
  • Reducing demand for energy imports
  • Lowering the costs on a household and economy-wide level.
  • Energy savings
  • Increasing energy security
  • Stabilizing energy prices
  • Increase energy access
  • Improved health & wellbeing conditions
  • Improved air quality
  • Improved productivity
  • Economic benefits

WHY ENERGY EFFICIENCY IS ESSENTIAL TO ACHIEVE NET-ZERO

Energy efficiency is called the “first fuel” in clean energy transitions, as it provides some of the quickest and most cost-effective CO2 mitigation options while lowering energy bills and strengthening.

 Energy efficiency is the single largest measure to avoid energy demand in the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 (NZE) Scenario, along with the closely related measures of electrification, behavioral change, digitalization and material efficiency. 

TYPES OF ENERGY

  1. Primary Energy
  2. Non-Renewable Energy, which cannot be replenished, Fossil Fuels- Coal, Oil, Natural Gas etc
  3. Renewable energies are from natural sources which are essentially inexhaustible, like Solar, Wind, Geothermal etc
  4. Secondary Energy
  5. Primary energy is converted to other forms of usable energies mostly Steam & Electricity

Primary Energy Content of all fuels are generally expressed as Tonne of Oil Equivalent (toe)

1 toe = 1 x 10^7 Kcal = 11630 KWH (This is for understanding only)

THE KEY FOCUS IS TO REDUCE THE USE OF FOSSIL FUELS TO MINIMUM IN ORDER TO REDUCE GREEN HOUSE GASES INVENTORY TO BARE MINIMUM, THUS DE-CARBONIZING THE ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES LEADING TO NET-ZERO.

ENERGY SECURITY

Energy security is a serious concern of all the growing nations.

The aim of energy security is to reduce dependency on energy import and thereby marching towards maximum self-dependency.

Another aim of Energy security is to make energy available in varied form, in sufficient quantity and at reasonable price.

Because if the price of the energy is too high so the price of the end product will be too high.

Energy Intensity

Whole world is now focussing on Energy Intensity.

The focus is to lower the Energy Intensity.

Energy efficiency, electrification, behavioral change and digitalization are shaping global energy intensity

"The amount of energy required to produce a unit of GDP, a key measure of energy efficiency of the economy."

In a simple way Energy Intensity is the amount of energy consumed for production of one unit of product.

How ever many industries are working towards Net Zero but they overlook the strategies for this key area.

Energy intensity improvement accelerated from 0.8% per year from 2000-2010 to 1.7% between 2010-2022 with associated avoided emissions accumulated over each period of 2.5 Gt of CO2 per year in 2010 and 7 Gt CO2 per year in 2022. 

In the NZE (Net-Zero Energy) Scenario the rate of improvement in energy intensity rises to 4% per year on average this decade, avoiding around 10 Gt CO2 per year by 2030.  

(As per IEA report)

Energy efficiency plays a significant role in meeting Net Zero targets – businesses can’t achieve carbon neutrality without it.

By monitoring relevant data and utilizing the latest technological innovations, the business will see serious gains from retrofitting machineries & buildings for energy efficiency.

SOME FACTS

  • Govt of India has an ambitious target to install 500 GW of Renewable Energy (RE) power by 2030. (280 GW Solar & 140 GW Wind)
  • Till Sept 2023, installed RE capacity addition is 186 GW which is approx. 43% of total installed capacity.
  • India’s total installed capacity for power generation stands at approx. 4,17,668 MW. And this is expected to reach at 8,20,000 MW by 2030 (Approx).
  • CO2 emission from RE sources are 48 gm CO2/KWh for solar utility, 12 gm per KWh from off-shore wind, 24 gm CO2/KWh for Hydropower and 0.82 KG CO2/KWh for coal.
  • Hence from the above facts it is clear that SCOPE-1 (Direct) emission can be reduced drastically by maximizing Renewable Energy.

What is required?

While efficiency investment has recently been increasing to reach new record levels, the pace of global energy intensity improvements had noticeably slowed in the second half of the last decade.

This has been virtually stalled during the first two years of Covid-19.

The need of the hour is to:

Doubling the global pace of energy efficiency progress this decade is a key step in efforts to reach net zero emissions.

Green Finance is a must for achieving Net-zero. Green Finance is gaining ground fast in India as well as internationally.

  • Green finance is gaining momentum in the Indian economy as a crucial tool for transitioning toward net zero emissions.
  • The integration of environmental considerations into financial decision-making is crucial for sustainable development.
  • Initiatives like green bonds, carbon pricing, and sustainable investment strategies are driving the shift toward a greener economy in India.

THE ROLE OF ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN NET ZERO SUCCESS

Energy efficiency is one of the top measures for achieving Net Zero success by De-Carbonizing the industries across the globe.

In strategizing for Net Zero, many industries see the opportunities that exist throughout their current estate.

 Following green energy procurement strategy with carbon offsetting and even their own energy generation.

These are all great steps to take, it can be more cost effective to current strategies and see what can be improved across the existing industries.

Implementing existing technologies alone can increase energy efficiency – with the addition of next-generation tech, this can be enhanced even further.

Committing to energy efficiency projects across the business will lead to:

  • Decrease in operational costs and energy wastage across the industry.
  • Legislation compliance – with more transparency on the energy usage, a complete detailed reports that include all the required information to be compliant.
  • Reducing carbon emission.
  • Leading to De-carbonization
  • Another step closer to meeting the Net Zero 2050 targets. (For India 2070 target)

In fact, energy efficiency will help cut 40% of emissions required to meet Net Zero. By using energy in a smart, more valuable way,

These can improve cost savings and reduce carbon emissions improved use of energy across your entire business estate.

CHALLENGES IN ENERGY EFFICIENCY & WAY FORWARD

Implementing energy saving solutions is not always a simple process. There are many challenges around energy efficiency that may make it difficult for some businesses to roll out the changes they need.

One challenge is simply the lack of information around a business’ energy consumption. If you cannot see where energy is being wasted across your estate, how can you correctly identify opportunities for energy efficiency projects?

The answer is to conduct regular Energy Audit. “You can’t control if you can’t measure”

The energy management team will analyse all sites across your business, compiling the relevant information into a comprehensive report.

In this report, areas of improvement are clearly identified, and we provide access to all the data for you in a custom dashboard.

This will give you with a full understanding of your business energy consumption, including problem areas.

There may also be cases where businesses have collected the required data, but they don’t know what to do with it, or how to work out next steps.

Without the right expertise, it’s harder to understand which business processes are demanding the most energy, if this is expected, and what can be done about it.

This lack of knowledge can delay or even hinder energy saving projects as valuable opportunities are missed.

A heavy reliance on manual data collection can also impact the success of energy efficiency projects. Collecting data manually can naturally lead to errors, such as:

  • Inaccurate or forgotten readings.
  • Meters that have been tampered with
  • Delays in compiling data because the manual process can take time, while businesses continue to spend money on energy.

When it comes to implementing energy saving solutions in existing buildings, projects can include upgrades to Business Management Systems (BMS) across the business.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY MEASURES

Identify where energy can be saved and proactively reduce the business energy costs quickly and effectively. 

Work closely with ENERGY MANAGEMENT team to find out the energy saving solutions to your specific needs.

Following are some of the major energy saving projects that can be implemented in industries:

  • Lighting upgrades, controls and refits
  • BMS (Building Management System)/building controls installation, optimization and support
  • Plant efficiency measures like High efficiency motors, High efficiency pumps, optimized HVAC system, optimizing oxygen at boiler/ Furnace flue gas outlet, optimizing boiler combustion control to have minimum unburnt carbon in the flue gas.
  • Using waste heat recovery boilers
  • Implementing VAHP (Vapor absorption Heat Pump) – VAM (Vapor Absorption Machine)
  • Plant / system upgrades and technology changes like using VFD, Multispeed motors, using non-metallic cooling tower fan blades (Like FRP/GRP)
  • Optimizing cooling tower fan blade angles depending on the seasons
  • Time of day / peak cost avoidance measures by introducing automatic street lighting systems.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY TECHNOLOGIES AND APPLICATIONS

The best technology choice is determined by a combination of energy savings, availability, supporting policies of the respective countries etc

RESIDENTIAL SECTOR


Energy-Efficient Lighting: Transition to LED bulbs and energy-efficient lighting fixtures.

Use motion sensors and smart lighting controls.

Implement daylight harvesting systems for natural lighting.

Promote awareness of energy-efficient lighting practices.

Upgrade to ENERGY STAR-rated appliances.

Home Insulation and Sealing: Insulate walls, roofs, and floors to reduce heat loss.  Seal gaps and cracks in windows and doors.

Install double-glazed windows for better insulation.

Utilize smart thermostats for precise temperature control.

 Encourage energy audits for personalized efficiency recommendations.

Energy-Efficient Appliances: Upgrade to energy-efficient appliances with high ENERGY STAR ratings.

Implement smart home systems for optimized appliance usage.

Use energy-efficient HVAC systems and water heaters.

 Promote energy-efficient cooking practices.

Educate residents on energy-saving behaviours.

Renewable Energy Integration: Install rooftop solar panels for residential energy generation.

Implement small-scale wind or micro-hydro systems where applicable.

Utilize solar water heaters for domestic hot water needs.

Encourage community-based renewable energy projects.

 Facilitate access to financing for residential renewable energy solutions.

Behavioral Changes and Education: Conduct energy efficiency awareness campaigns.

 Provide incentives for energy-efficient behavior.

 Educate residents on optimal thermostat settings.

 Encourage responsible water usage through awareness.  Promote community-based energy-saving initiatives.

COMMERCIAL & INDUSTRIAL SECTOR


 Energy Management Systems:  Implement advanced energy management systems.  Conduct regular energy audits for continuous improvement.

Monitor and control energy usage in real-time.

Utilize building automation systems for efficient operations.

Efficient Lighting and Control: Replace traditional lighting with LED fixtures.

Install occupancy sensors and smart lighting controls.

Implement daylight harvesting systems.



Optimized HVAC Systems: Upgrade/Retrofit to energy-efficient HVAC systems. Implement zone-based heating and cooling systems.

Conduct scheduled maintenance for HVAC equipment.

 Utilize programmable smart thermostats for temperature control.

 Implement smart ventilation systems for higher efficiency.

Industrial Process Optimization: Conduct energy assessments for industrial processes and value chains.

Implement energy-efficient technologies in manufacturing processes.

 Optimize process heating and cooling systems using smart technology.

 Upgrade motors and drives to high-energy efficient models.

 Implement waste heat recovery systems for greater overall efficiency.

Renewable Energy Integration: Install on-site renewable energy installations.

Explore power purchase agreements for off-site renewables purchases.

Explore for utility-scale renewable energy projects.

Incorporate energy storage systems for better grid stability.

Integrate Cogeneration systems.
Energy / Fuel efficient motors which are ranging from 3 to 7% efficient than standard motors.

High efficiency burners for Boilers & Furnaces

Efficient cooling towers

Efficient heat exchangers

High quality insulation in heating & cooling system

Enhancements to the building envelope (e.g., roof, siding, windows)

TRANSPORTATION

Fuel Efficiency in Vehicles:  Promoting use of fuel-efficient and electric vehicles.

Implement scheduled vehicle maintenance for optimal performance.

Invest in a fleet management system for more higher efficiency.


Optimization of public transport system: - Encourage & Invest in energy-efficient public transportation modes.

Promote the use of high-capacity public transit modes.

Explore and Implement intelligent public transportation systems.

Bike-sharing and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure development

Integrate electric buses into public transportation fleets.
Alternative Fuels and Electrification:  Start using alternative fuels such as biodiesel and compressed natural gas.

Electrification of transportation fleets for reduced emissions.

High efficient charging system for electric vehicles.

Implementation of policies for incentivization of electric vehicle adoption.

Start implementing the use of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Traffic Management Systems: Implement smart traffic signalling systems.

 Promote carpooling and ridesharing programs and odd-even days program.

Encourage and implement remote work and flexible commuting schedules for offices in businesses.

OTHER ACTIONS REQUIRED FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Reduction of Carbon Emissions:

Energy efficiency measures significantly decrease the amount of energy required for various processes, resulting in lower carbon emissions (GHG emissions).

By optimizing energy use, industries and households can contribute to decarbonization efforts.

By reducing Energy Intensity, reduction in Global Warming can be achieved at faster rate.

Enhancing Sustainability:

Energy efficiency always helps to achieve sustainability goals by minimizing resource consumption.

It reduces:

The demand for fossil fuels,

Mitigating environmental impacts

Integrating a more sustainable approach to energy use.

Technological Innovation is the Key Mantra:

Developing innovative technologies for Energy Efficiency is the key.

Implement this from smart grids to energy-efficient appliances, technological advancements in this area contribute to a more sustainable and long-term energy infrastructure.

Economics of Energy Efficiency:

By Investing in energy efficiency measures businesses are yielding economic benefits.

Cost savings through reduced energy bills is the big gain for businesses.

Hence energy efficiency is a financially attractive strategy while contributing to decarbonization goals.

A powerful vehicle for Transition to Renewable Energy:
Energy efficiency is complementing towards the transition for renewable energy sources. This is most important factor.

Using less energy with more efficient way, the overall demand for energy decreases, making it easier to meet that reduced demand with cleaner and renewable sources.

Govt Regulatory Standards & Compliances:

Governments and organizations are working hands-in-hands for  increasingly implementing regulations and standards that manifest or mandate energy efficiency.

Supporting the environmental goals and ensuring compliances requires adhering to the regulatory measures & compliances.

Global Leadership and Responsibility:

Embracing energy efficiency positions entities as leaders in the global effort to combat climate change.

Taking responsibility for one's carbon footprint and actively working towards Net-Zero goals In conclusion, the integration of energy efficiency into our energy landscape is not merely a choice; it is a way of life!!

In India BEE (Bureau of Energy Efficiency) is the spearheading Energy Efficiency and it is a commendable job.

SCOPE OF BEE CERTIFIED ENERGY MANAGERS & AUDITORS

The role of BEE CERTIFIED Energy Managers & Energy Auditors has increased multi-fold in view of tackling Global warming, De-carbonization and achieving Net-Zero, by implementing Energy Efficiency, Energy conservation, Cleaner Technologies and CCUS (Carbon Capture, Use & Storage) technology.

At SEEM (Society of Energy Engineers & Managers), we have taken a mission to train 20,000 professionals till next 2030 for appearing Energy manager & auditor examination and to pass at one attempt.


SUMMARY

  1. Adopt comprehensive policy package on energy efficiency
  2. Conduct an energy savings audit to identify areas for energy efficiency improvement
  3. Replace old inefficient equipment and prioritize retrofitting outdated equipment & buildings
  4. Expand the coverage of efficiency regulations and strengthen energy performance standards
  5. Use incentive programmes to drive energy efficiency markets while protecting the most vulnerable from high energy price
  6. Provide information campaigns to influence consumer choice and behaviours in purchasing and using efficient equipment.
  7. Continuously thrive to reduce power plant Heat Rate (HR)
  8. Continuous reduction of auxiliary consumption in power plant
  9. Mix RE with fossil fuel generated power to reduce the GHG emission.

In summary, energy efficiency is a multifaceted and powerful tool for achieving decarbonization and transitioning towards a Net-Zero future.

 It combines economic, environmental, and social benefits while contributing to global efforts to address climate change.

Bibek Roy
An experienced power plant professional having more than 34 years of experience in India & abroad. Certified Lead auditor for QMS, EHSMS. Certifed Energy auditor from BEE. A trainer, coach and auditor. An evangelist for sustainability.

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