We were recently asked by the one the largest fresh produce markets in Africa, whose site is enormous (150 000m² under-roof, roughly the surface area of 18 rugby fields)  with multiple halls and massive refrigerated areas to conduct a detailed Energy Management Assessment or EMA.

We were asked to investigate the site in detail as the market has expansion plans, but found itself  constrained by two primary factors; the electricity supply available to them, and the outdated and inefficient equipment currently in use, from old lighting to motors in need of upgrading.

By now you can image what a detailed analysis might require and the scope of the task at hand, especially if a facility is spending hundreds of thousands of Rands per month on electricity. What is often referred to as an Energy Audit is merely a ‘walk through’ inspection of a facility, a simple scoping exercise to establish an overview of their current energy utilisation and consumption. This, however, is not detailed enough to allocate serious funding towards. For that, an EMA. needs to take place.

An EMA is a detailed study whereby we identify, analyse and prioritise the opportunities available to a business for improved energy management through a set of EMO’s( Energy Management Opportunities.) Which, in layman’s terms means we identify ways to reduce your energy bill, or determine ways by which we increase the available energy to your facility or site. As part of an EMA, you develop an understanding of the energy use, identify the types and cost of the energy use, and in which capacities it is being used or wasted. You then identify and analyse cost effective ways of utilising the energy through improved operational techniques, equipment, and processes or technology.

More often than not a significant energy management opportunity (EMO) stems from the identification of poor behaviour. Depending on the facility, savings of up to 30% can be achieved through behaviour modification, through regular training and retraining are critical in maintaining this saving.

The majority of the energy consumption at the market arose from refrigeration (41%) and lighting (21%), with the most significant EMO’s around the lighting. The implementation of a control system, such as day / night sensors and timers ,as well as the upgrading to more energy efficient alternatives could yield savings in excess of 5 650 000 kWh’s , which could conservatively yield R7 780 000 in savings per annum. This is a huge saving which more than covers the costs of undertaking an EMA.

Another interesting aspect to this EMA was the scoping of a gas trigeneration plant. There was a nearby gas line which could be accessed and utilised. This would allow the market to generate additional electricity, heating and cooling in order to accommodate the planned expansion, considering the insufficient municipal power supply. The capacity of the trigeneration plant had to be balanced against the cooling required by the existing and future refrigeration, along with other market power requirements, all of which would be supplemented by the installation of a solar PV plant alongside the existing municipal supply.

It goes without saying that if you need to evaluate these types of complex and costly opportunities for improving energy management, you should certainly evaluate the energy management company in terms of its experience and expertise.

Equally critical for the process to be a successful endeavour  is support from the client throughout the EMA. An average EMA can take between eight to eighteen weeks, as much of the information required is typically operations related. Sourcing of historical energy and production data is often a point of delay in most EMAs, however, it is key in accurately determining a historical baseline. By using historical data to formulate a baseline, significant energy users were identified, quantifying the baseline and creating a means to start the identification of wasted energy.

Anything this complicated and time consuming warrants a focused approach by individuals that specialise in energy efficiency, with documented practical experience in successfully implementing the relevant solutions.

If you want to find out what it would cost your organisation to have this kind of insight, contact us for a free proposal.