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Stay current with latest energy trends

06 May 2014

With plant engineers and directors increasingly responsible for reducing CO2 emissions, a lack of knowledge about how to achieve the highest energy efficiency levels is a growing concern. Ahead of Energy & Environment Expo, Fergus Bird, group event manager at UBM Live, suggests ways to keep up to date on energy matters.

With industry producing 25% of the UK’s total CO2 emissions, it’s undeniable that this sector of the economy has a significant role to play in the country’s push for carbon reduction. Indeed, cutting carbon has moved up the priority list for all industrial energy users. The result, however, is that CO2 emissions are increasingly part of the remit for plant engineers and directors – many of whom do not come from an energy management background.

Knowledge gaps

Knowledge levels among engineers responsible for carbon reduction can vary greatly. According to a recent CBI report (Shining a light: Uncovering the business energy efficiency opportunity), although 80% of companies consider energy efficiency a high priority, there remains a knowledge gap that hampers energy saving. The report found that 'a lack of awareness at all levels undermines businesses’ attempts to better manage their energy use'.

The gaps in knowledge can range from not knowing which green technologies represent the best value for money; difficulty with securing financing for upgrades; problems with building the business case for widespread energy-saving changes. The energy arena is dense and complex; inevitably, everyone has blind spots. And the rapidly-changing nature of technology can compound matters: Fast-paced development of new and existing technologies means that much of what was true five years ago (or even one year ago) is not true today.

Bridging the gap

It’s clear that plant directors and engineers must take steps to bridge the energy-related knowledge gap that persists. Trade publications, consultants and energy-focused advisory organisations are, of course, obvious starting points, but immersion in an environment of like-minded individuals and energy experts is also valuable.

This year’s Energy & Environment Expo (formerly the Energy Solutions Expo), takes place from 17th to19th June at London’s ExCeL Centre, and will provide visitors with access to a wide range of products, services and – vitally – experts across the built environment sector, catering to a range of knowledge levels.

Spotlight issues

New legislation and market developments are just some of the key issues on the agenda at the Expo, with an Energy Institute session introducing the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), which is scheduled to begin in 2015. Jon Ferris, head of risk management at EIC, will be discussing the rise of flexible energy supply contracts.

The latest technology – and how to get to grips with it – will be another spotlight issue. Andy Lewry, principal consultant at the BRE, will be helping audiences to understand the choices for building controls and how to take a practical approach to operating control technologies.

Beyond the quick wins

In addition to the ‘quick wins’ available through energy-efficient technologies, there is vast potential for further energy saving in industry. Yet this is only possible if the effort is taken to get an in-depth understanding of the energy flows within the plant’s processes, and a well-structured energy strategy is put in place.

At the Energy & Environment Expo, Andre Burgess of EMVC Solutions will be making the case for pushing efficiency efforts further, arguing that energy efficiency investments need to be viewed as strategic, value-creating investments rather than mere cost-saving measures. And Stephen Jarvis, finance director at Carbon Clear, will be leading a seminar on where to start when devising an energy strategy.

The scope for increased energy efficiency in industry is so broad, and technologies are evolving so rapidly, that it’s inevitable that directors and engineers charged with cutting carbon often get stuck along the way. Getting that all-important kickstart is usually just a case of learning from those ‘in the know’ and making sure you’re well versed in the latest energy trends.