Energy concepts and energy efficiency
BIOS BIOENERGIESYSTEME GmbH, Graz
In all sectors of everyday life the use of raw materials and energy for various applications plays a major role. The degree of efficiency within these applications is mostly defined due to historical and economic side constraints. On the one hand processes and products were developed according to the conditions given at the time of their market introduction and on the other hand the existing processes, particularly in the industrial sector, should be operated as economically as possible.
Due to the knowledge that the use of all resources is limited, the demand for products and processes which are manufactured respectively operated with low resource and energy consumption is steadily increasing within the last years. This induces the need of systems which are based on a sustainable approach.
The consideration of material as well as energy flows is important since material flows are usually also potential energy flows (e.g. thermal potential of a wastewater stream, the energy content of fuels).
In order to implement measures to increase efficiency or save resources, it is particularly important that a well defined environment with clear system boundaries is defined at the beginning of the work. The system boundaries can be factories, municipalities or also intermediate stages (e.g. industrial zone within a municipality etc.).
The typical stages of the development of an energy concept within given system boundaries are the following:
Analysis of status quo:
The basis for each measure of improvement and its implementation is a detailed analysis of the actual state inside the given system boundaries covering the investigation and quantification of all relevant material and energy flows. The aim of this analysis is the supply of clear and transparent material and energy balances which are the basis for all further considerations.
The resources considered can be for example water, sewage, waste, gaseous emissions, process raw materials, consumables, etc..
The energy flows investigated can be related for example to heat, cold, electricity, pressurised air and fuels.
Within the analysis of the status quo it also has to be distinguished whether usable resources (e.g. water, electricity) are already supplied externally or whether they are produced within the system boundary (e.g. own water sources, own electricity production).
In order to build up a long-term reliable energy plan also future developments within the system boundaries should be taken into account (e.g. degree of development in a community, business expansions and closures, production changes, etc.).
Identification of bottlenecks:
Based on the analysis of status quo the identification of potential bottlenecks within the system boundaries is performed. Bottlenecks in particular are those processes where the used material and energy flows are provided with a very low degree of utilization respectively efficiency for the end use.
Identification of resource saving potentials:
On the one hand resource savings can be achieved through the elimination of bottlenecks and the resulting increase in resource and energy efficiency and on the other hand by any possible reduction or levelling on the demand side.
In the course of the investigation of measures for efficiency improvement processes according to the current state-of-the-art are compared with the actual systems in operation. Usually there are several possible process options available which have to be compared within a techno-economic evaluation.
In some cases a reduction of resource requirements without reduction of the comfort can be achieved (e.g. reducing lighting at night at non-sensible locations, reducing the space heating in unused rooms or objects, etc.).
At the end of this step new material and energy balances as a target for the future development will be identified.
Evaluation of available resources:
The remaining resource and energy demand as a result from the previous concept steps should be covered as efficiently as possible. It is of particular interest that the possible synergies within the system boundaries have to be considered. This allows for example the re-use of waste heat from one production area in another or of a surplus material or energy flow of a factory at another energy sink within a community.
This kind of evaluation implies of course a cross-interdisciplinary approach which requires a high level of professionalism.
Effective coverage of the remaining resource demand in a sustainable and economic way:
The remaining demand for resources and energy within the system boundaries after considering savings, increased efficiency and utilization of existing resources should be covered in a sustainable and economic way.
On the one hand it may affect the direct use of regional resources and energies in already existing processes and on the other hand it may be meaningful to establish the corresponding transformation steps locally (new production facilities for the provision of materials and energy within the system boundaries).
The options of regional resource coverage have to be compared and economically evaluated with possible global alternative scenarios. Based on this procedure it can be assured that the resource demand can be covered in a sustainable and economic way.
Implementation of the concepts developed:
Based on the concepts developed and the principle decision by the responsible persons (e.g. management within a company, council within a community) a master plan for the implementation of the measures proposed as well as the detailed realization will follow.
BIOS BIOENERGIESYSTEME GmbH creates not only the concepts described above but also plans and manages the full implementation of the project (WORKING FIELD-Engineering).
A particular strength of BIOS is the constant consideration of the long-term economic impact of measures and future developments within the system boundaries (e.g., extensions, etc.) which is already performed in the planning stage in order to make sure that the best possible solution for the client will be identified.