Trends in energy optimization in Energy Intensive Industries

The cost of energy in the present days have increased exponentially. One of the primary reasons is the depletion of the natural energy resources available to humanity at present. The present available resources which can be harnessed easily are the forest and its derivatives as solid fuel and petroleum as liquid and gas. Under the solid fuels the easily available fuel in India is primarily coal & lignite. Now with the scarcity of coal becoming a reality with times, usage of other wood-based products like waste wood & timber, dried leaves and bark, dried coconut and palm shells are also being thought of as industrial fuels. Conventionally these are used by the village households. Considering the available scope of these agro based fuels, industries especially captive and cogeneration powerplants have still not geared up to these alternate fuels.

Only some of the pulp and paper plants have tried to utilize these agro wastes since these wastes are becoming environmental issue for them. The captive power plants in the metal processing and chemical industries are still depending on coal and oil as the main fuel. Under the circumstances the energy costs are mounting up for most of the manufacturing and process industries – especially minerals & ore processing, metal processing, chemicals and petrochemicals, pulp & paper to name a few leading energy intensive industries.

Even though there is a big push for renewable energy harnessing mainly solar and wind. However, the issue here is availability of vast wasteland and wind flow in all areas. Only specific areas have these facilities available at low cost. Even then the capital cost for the solar and wind energy plants are very high and the rate of returns are low. Also, the specific power output with respect to per unit lakh of Rupees invested is very much lower compared to Thermal or Nuclear power plants.  But the environmental aftereffects like ash and nuclear waste disposal is a very big socio-political issue now.

Considering the above it is very important for all manufacturing industries to be energy efficient and look for opportunities to conserve or reuse the energy as best as possible. Lot of work is ongoing in the energy & resource conservation, but there is still a lot to be done and it also requires investment. There are lot of organizations in the country which impart consultancy on energy optimization, conservation and reuse of the spent energy. The most common form of energy available to any industry is electricity, steam and compressed air. Most energy audits are done to monitor the consumption of these primary utilities and identify their optimal utilization.

Similar consultation services are also available at my end for most optimum usage of energy in the form of electricity, steam and compressed air resulting in better profitability and cash flows with minimal or negligible investments. This is possible because of more proper usage of simple engineering concepts and out of the box thinking developed over the period of 30 years of industrial experience in process and power plant projects implementation & completion under EPC route.

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Rupak Roy
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