Don’t Ignore Benchmarking.

 Sustainable Development Goals

Energy monitoring has become one of the prime focus areas for almost all facilities across various sectors these days. Few companies wherein the energy cost is having a significant portion of their overall cost will monitor the energy then compares it internally and externally and then prepares a strategy to reduce their energy costs. But there are few sectors where the energy costs are not so significant in comparison to the overall cost and those users limits themselves only to energy monitoring but not extending to benchmark the same. They even try for implementing few energy-saving projects, realises the cost savings but cannot achieve the best as they didn’t lay down any benchmark for the same.

Case Example:

There is a facility which is located little outskirts to a major city. Reliable power was the biggest issue for them a few years back. Since this facility has a large workforce and research lab that requires a reliable air conditioning system to work. The facility team have analysed so many solutions and finally decided to install a diesel-fired vapour absorption chiller system that can provide reliable cooling as the diesel supplies were plenty. Another factor that made the facility team select this option is that they were getting the diesel at a discounted price of about 30% lesser than the market price because of some incentive benefits. All these positive points were put up as a note and sent for approval to top management. Finally, System got installed.

The kW/TR of this particular diesel-fired VAM was about 2.5 and the cost per generating 1 TR of cooling was around INR 12 even at the discounted diesel rate. The facility has improved a lot in terms of retrofitting regular lighting with LED lamps, went for installation of high energy efficiency pumps in place of old pumps and even harnessed biomass from kitchen waste. These all were tracked properly and reported to the management. Management too felt that their facility is performing is to the mark as they can see some considerable amount of energy cost savings. So the major focus was on present energy consumption and relative reduction due to energy-saving initiatives. They were happy.

At present power, reliability issue has been solved and still the same combustion-based VAM is continued for usage. In one of the internal assessments, it is observed that by replacing the machine with a vapour compression-based system the savings were huge. The latest VCR based Chiller comes with a kW/TR value near 0.55 which is many times less than that of the earlier system. The estimated cost per generating TR, in this case, is around INR 4.4 and the differential cost savings of around INR 7.5 per TR.

All the time the facility was analysing their existing system performance individually and their strategies were in such a way that they are operating nearer to their design. But the scenario would have been different if they would have tried benchmarking approach with similar facilities. It was observed that by replacing the existing system with a centrifugal VCR system savings were about 65 lakhs per annum and with the payback of around less than 1.5 years. The power reliability issue got solved 3 to 4 years earlier, but if they would have benchmarked their monitored value of kW/TR or INR/TR with internal or external peers then their thought process would have brought them much earlier for this replacement idea and they would have saved more than 300 Lakhs (Huge...!). With the advanced IoT technologies available in the market it is recommended to follow benchmarking approach and monitor continuously your parameters with the best numbers available out there in the market.