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Monitoring & Targeting – the ultimate tool for energy savings

Published on December 01, 2009

Sarah Van Der Paelt, CGA
Director, Commercial/Industrial Sales & Marketing
Union Gas Limited

Union Gas Tips for Reducing Energy Costs

Part three of a four part series

We are facing one of the most competitive business climates in decades. Rooting out energy waste and finding energy savings can be big challenges, especially in large facilities with complex production processes and schedules. Wouldn’t you like to put in place the best practice for driving ongoing energy savings?


In the last two articles we discussed how a simple energy accounting system can be set up using monthly utility data to spot patterns and unexpected changes. This kind of energy accounting can provide the basis for an energy management information system- a tool to help your plant energy team plan energy projects, measure their success, and promote a more energy aware culture. 


But an energy management information system can be much more powerful when it is coupled with Monitoring & Targeting (M&T).  Also called Metering & Targeting, this technique works by comparing actual metered energy use to preset targets that are determined using predictive energy consumption modelling.


M&T models relate energy consumption to the input factors that drive consumption. These might include weather, production rates, humidity, process temperature, pressure, ph, or other factors unique to your operations.  Such models highlight consumption change events and savings opportunities that can remain hidden when lesser analysis techniques are used.  M&T also quantifies the value of these change events while they are ongoing – information that can be used to prove out business cases for conservation projects and ensure that the expected savings continue.


One of the best things about M&T is that it does not require expensive engineering modeling of equipment or processes. Easy-to-use software is available to provide you with effective, simple models that take into account common drivers such as outdoor temperature and/or varying production levels. There are also companies who provide customized modeling that could encompass whole plant utility energy use as well as large energy-using equipment or processes. If you have several utilities to monitor, perhaps with multiple key drivers, you may find this kind of specialized help useful and cost-effective. Some energy service companies offer an enhanced M&T service via the internet using the latest software to provide you with customized reports.


The power of M&T models comes from comparing actual use to predicted use. This is done by way of a calculation called CUSUM (Cumulative Sum of Differences) – the difference between actual metered consumption for a period and the amount predicted by the energy model. When CUSUM values are charted, the resulting picture dramatically highlights when energy use is greater or lesser than expected and by how much.  Since key drivers, like weather and production output, are already taken into account in the model, any up tick in the chart signals that you need to look for another cause. It could be something to do with equipment or processes, for example, or a departure from best operating or maintenance practices. Of course a negative CUSUM – signalling lower energy use than expected – should also be investigated.  It could help you uncover a better way of doing things going forward.


The most effective M&T systems operate in real time with meter intervals as short as fifteen minutes for electricity and an hour for natural gas. This gives you a more detailed understanding of energy use and allows you to act quickly to correct problems. Premium versions of M&T can be linked to your energy management system to provide automatic alerts when energy use soars.


A well-crafted M&T program can save anywhere from 5% to 25% on overall utility bills and can be used for multiple purposes: 


·         Assess benefit/cost of equipment changes and projects

·         Help prioritize project implementation

·         Verify energy savings resulting from projects and culture changes

·         Help plant personnel track and control energy consumption

·         Show how changes in operating and process variables affect energy use

·         Enable benchmarking and targeting for continuous improvement

·         Provide real-time notification when energy consumption deviates from targets

·         Provide more accurate forecasts for energy costs and to negotiate energy sourcing

·         Provide positive input to achieve and maintain ISO 14001 compliance

·         Track carbon footprint to meet compliance or carbon trading needs.


Union Gas offers financial support for Monitoring and Targeting.  Next month’s final article in this series will provide more information on Union’s EnerSmart programs for manufacturing customers.


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