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Taking the side-exit from energy price rises

Maurycy Szwajkajzer
Enreco

11 April 2019

Taking the side-exit from energy price rises

Most of the expenses of using any type of building for any user are made up of the electricity, gas and heating costs. For some time now, there has been much talk about the price increases for these utilities – especially for electricity. The fact is that for some users this has risen by more than 50 pct. This has resulted in businesses looking for ways to buy energy at a lower unit rate. Obviously, this is a good response, but it is not the most effective. Looking at the market, the savings that can be made this way are between a few percent to over 10 pct – with the potential to grow over the next few years.

But the “side-exit from energy cost increases” I actually want to talk about is to embrace energy efficiency. That means reducing energy consumption regardless of its unit price. From my experience as a cooling and heating engineer, I have noticed that most new development projects across the various segments have significant potential to reduce their energy consumption – from 15 pct to as much as 50 pct or even more. The ways that developers and building owners can achieve such significant savings include installing CO2 cooling and heating units as well as combining heating and cooling in one closed circuit. Such systems are also durable and save money in the long run.

By analysing the energy consumption of office, logistics, retail and industrial facilities, we estimate that about 60 pct is used for cooling or air conditioning. The remaining 40 pct is used for heating, lighting, automation and the use of other electrical devices. Clearly, therefore, any effective improvements to the refrigeration and air conditioning systems will bring significant benefits when looking at the entire investment.

Cooling and heating make up the thermodynamics of a building. Their optimisation has to be taken step-by-step:

Step I – This can be applied to an existing system and involves optimising the settings of devices that already exist as well as entire systems through their continuous monitoring. Savings of up to 15 pct are possible this way.

Step II – This is to replace existing or newly designed cooling or heating units with those that operate in the same way but are more energy efficient. For cooling systems savings of up to 30 pct are possible and of up to 25 pct for the heating systems.

Step III – This involves combining the cooling (or air conditioning) systems with the heating. This is only practical if it is done right at the design stage. For most development projects, this can result in savings of up to 50 pct. This figure includes savings of about 40 pct on the cooling and of up to 100 pct on the heating (with the complete shutdown of a separate heat source).

Regardless of the scale of the investment, all of these steps, if applied, will result in significant savings. In steps II and III, we reap the benefits of using equipment that works on CO2.

Implementing such energy saving systems is not easy at the beginning and usually entails a certain level of capital expenditure. This raises the question of what kind of capital outlay will be required, whether it is justified and is it certain to pay off. The client therefore needs to determine precisely when the costs will be recouped and the potential risks. This is what we call E2B – Engineering to Business.

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