By: Marcos Matías, President of Schneider Elelectric for the Andean Region
What is not measured cannot be administered? This question has two faces, and in the case of energy efficiency it is good to analyze them both, since each one has an important impact on the way in which a company can meet its objectives in this regard.
According to the National Association of Industrialists (Andi), energy in Colombia is more expensive, comparatively, than in other countries in the region. This has been a historical problem, despite having important water and hydroelectric resources, recognized worldwide.
Consider some figures: Colombia ranks 62nd among 144 nations, as a producer of energy supply, according to a recent report by the World Economic Forum. In addition, according to the National Competitiveness Report 2012-2013, Colombia could improve energy costs, since in the country 10.4 ¢ (cents) per kilowatt hour are spent on average, while with some modifications to the regulation could reduce this cost and make the industry more competitive.
This tells us that, in any case, we should invest in energy efficiency. But it is necessary to determine what is going to be measured and how within this threshold of possibilities. With clear purposes, the time needed to determine trends and consumption models can be reduced in order to obtain concrete results and figures that allow us to compare between one period and another, between one method and another, or between one tool and another .
This will be reported on the energy bill, of course, and will become a good initial step to compare consumption between one period and another, or the evolution of a model over several months.
The multiple dimensions of energy efficiency
Despite the measures that have been taken on efficiency, these have not been sufficient for the price decrease. An alternative to this option is that, for a given period, you can measure the power of the loads that have been required and, in turn, define a location in time and space. In this way, the variables can be defined with greater precision and it is also possible to understand what it consumes most in an installation, in a data center, in a production plant or in a building.
Energy efficiency, as an application, uses this data to apply corrective measures and thus use appropriate technologies, which include operations automation systems, control systems and administration systems. Even through these considerations, it is possible to determine the use of specialized software and applications that can support decision making.
It is simple, knowing where and when, the processes become evident and, thus, taking the necessary corrections will be easier. Here is the importance of planning how the energy efficiency methodology will be deployed through the following steps: 1) measure and audit, 2) establish bases, 3) automate and regulate; and 4) continuously monitor.
The other side of the coin
Industrial development, production requirements and the implementation of international standards will force us to look for better ways to optimize energy consumption. Consequently, we will integrate a quantitative vision that we still do not know. That is, the other side of the coin. Can we measure the passion, momentum and energy with which we determine on a board of directors, on a board or simply from management, how are we going to make energy efficiency relevant in management indicators? Even if you put your whole heart, only until the final achievement of the metrics will you see if the commitment is true, if attention was paid or if more is required.
Management indicators, in this case, are less complicated to measure and analyze. They are exhibited in the routines and procedures of all employees, in the way they handle the lighting of their area and are aware of the responsibility that each one has in the role of reducing the carbon footprint, both personal and of the company.
Similarly, the result of the appropriation of this responsibility and this commitment multiplies and expands more rapidly than any other mechanism. In turn, it is easily appropriated by the children and other family members of the people we work with, who will probably gladly assume this efficient attitude. Therefore, it is possible to develop and be part of a chain reaction that benefits us all in the process.