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Why is it important to invest in energy efficiency in industry?

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High consumption and waste of electrical energy are very common in industry. For this reason, thinking about energy efficiency is essential not only to reduce electricity costs, but also to guarantee the best performance and durability of equipment. It is a strategy that directly influences financial and operational issues. 

This article will present the main factors that generate losses and increase costs, to help see why it is important to adopt actions that improve energy efficiency in industry and how to monitor consumption. Keep reading!

Energy use in industry: factors that generate losses and increase consumption

Many companies have high energy costs and they often do not know the causes of the waste. One of the villains of a high electrical bill in industry is a low power factor. This is a frequent problem in the sector and often generates thousands of reals in unnecessary expenses. 

The power factor is nothing more than the rate that calculates how much electrical energy is wasted to keep machines and equipment operating. It is a phenomenon related to the operation of machinery that use electrical motors, which generate an excess of reactive power and increase waste. Thus, to better understand this problem, we must also understand what is reactive power. 

When a company operates machinery, two types of energy are used: active and reactive. Active energy is that which actually conducts the work, that is, which makes the machines operate. Reactive energy does not conduct work, but is responsible for generating the electromagnetic field required to operate the motors in the equipment. 

The power factor is calculated based on the ratio between active energy and total energy. Thus, the higher the consumption of reactive energy at a company, the lower its power factor.

The consequences of lower efficiency go beyond a high electrical bill. Companies that have a low power factor are can be penalized by electrical uilities. Thus,  when there is an excessive consumption of reactive power, the lower the power factor and the higher the  fine.

Another consequence of a low power factor are problems that it can generate for a company’s infrastructure, including the heating up of conductors, a drop in the efficient use of transformers, a reduction in voltage in electric installations and overloading the system.   

Finally, there is another factor that can generate losses and increase consumption at companies: harmonics. The electrical grid works at a frequency of 50 or 60 Hz, the ideal rate for linear alternating current circuits to operate without problems. 

Harmonics are nothing more than disturbances in the current and voltage caused by the large quantity of electronic devices around them. As a result, this interference harms the operation of the equipment and the energy efficiency. 

Harmonics can cause problems such as interference in communication networks, overload on a network, overheating of equipment, phase drops, increased costs for replacing machinery and mainly a reduced power factor. 

Read more: Are Social and Environmental Responsibility along enough? 

Why is it important to make efficient use of electrical energy in industry

According to the Manual de Eficiência Energética na Indústria [Manual of Energy Efficiency in Industry] prepared by Copel [the Energy Company of Parana state],  companies that commit to the proper and efficient use of electrical energy guarantee better use of their facilities and electrical equipment, which reduces energy consumption and thus lowers electrical costs. 

The better use of energy also provides an increase in productivity and quality of the finished product; all of this while maintaining the levels of safety and reducing the downtime of machinery for repairs and preventive maintenance. 

As we saw, the efficient use of energy also influences the operation of equipment, which helps increase the durability and sound operation of machinery. This results in greater security, fewer accidents and fewer damaged components.

It should also be highlighted that, just as waste can lead to penalties, greater energy efficiency can bring financial benefits to a company, facilitating the capture of financing and investments and opening space for more benefits and advantages. 

Moreover, the more efficient use of energy by industry not only benefits companies themselves, but also the country as a whole. This is because more efficient consumption reduces the need for investments in the construction of new power plants and transmission networks, reducing the costs for electrical energy, given that there is no need to pass along these costs to consumers.  

Another important impact is reduced prices of products and services, given that, like fuel costs, spending on electrical energy is one of the fixed expenses that compose the prices of the products that we consume.

Finally, energy efficiency is synonymous with energy security, improving energy supply capacity and the ability to meet demand on the grid, which reduces the risk of electrical energy crises and blackouts. 

Read more: How can Certi help promote corporate sustainability?

How to monitor and analyze energy efficiency at a company

Monitoring electrical energy consumption at a company is an essential measure, not only to clearly identify how much the company spends monthly to maintain its operations, but also to verify the existence of problems and identify actions that can reduce costs. 

At first, consumption can be monitored through monthly analysis of bills, creating a spreadsheet that allows tracking changes over time. It is important that this analysis be conducted by technical staff and is not only the responsibility of administrative sectors. 

For this analysis to truly result in effective measures for reducing expenses, it is necessary to understand all of the laws and regulations that govern electrical energy supply in the region that the company operates and to understand the tariff structure, the terms of service of the utility and the possible penalties and advantages offered. 

If a monthly monitoring of bills is not able to identify possible problems and provide enough information to discriminate consumption by each piece of equipment, the company should conduct more frequent monitoring – weekly, daily or even in real time. 

For large companies, it is important to have individual meters for specific locations, separating them at different facilities. In a partnership with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI), CERTI is developing a platform focused on energy efficiency that will help companies monitor and evaluate consumption in their facilities. 

The data collected by meters are sent to a platform so that after analysis, it provides indicators of energy efficiency. The analysis is made with measurements that allow identifying, for example, the cost of energy that each machine generates. The main indicators identified by the solution are highlighted by: 

  • Monitoring contracted demand;
  • Energy cost accumulated monthly or daily 
  • Voltage Instability;
  • Harmonic distortion;
  • The Power Factor; 
  • Amount of consumption linked to production;
  • Amount of consumption not linked to production;;
  • Consumption per equipment;
  • Total hours of work shift.

To learn more about this issue, keep reading our articles and if you have any questions, contact us.

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