Energy Efficiency, Commercial, Industrial, Sourcing Renewables  -  February 26, 2018

Smart Energy Decisions Innovation Summit kicks off in Austin

Strategies for improving profits and reducing carbon emissions are front-and-center at the second annual Smart Energy Decisions Innovation Summit in Austin, TX, February 25 - 27. Seventy energy management and sustainability executives from 61 large commercial and industrial companies are attending the 3-day conference, representing a wide range of industry sectors. More than four in 10 of them manage energy budgets of $200 million or more.

This year, Innovation Summit attendees will experience 11 general sessions, 45 boardroom case-study sessions, and close to 350 one-on-one customer/supplier meetings. The program concludes on Tuesday, February 27 with the inaugural Smart Energy Decisions Innovation Awards.

The opening day program featured keynote presentations by Mary Curtiss, global head of energy and sustainability at HP; Mike Storch, president and CEO, EnerNOC, an Enel Group Company; and a panel of energy management executives discussing advanced energy efficiency technologies. The following are highlights of those sessions:

Mary Curtiss: Reinventing Energy Mgmt at HP

HP is committed to sustainability, Curtis declared at the outset of her presentation, noting that reinvention and innovation have been key to HP’s culture and products since its founding in 1957. Her team is focused on product solutions and reclaiming products at the end of their life cycle. She identified a range of energy goals, including achieving 100% of the company’s electricity from renewable sources over the long-term. By 2025 HP is looking for water efficiency improvements with a 15% cut in fresh water use (now at 3.5%); and a 25% reduction in science-based carbon emissions (now at 6%).

Challenges to meeting those goals are impacted by the availability of data, limited resources, and aligning objectives across 200 different sites. The company has a 10-step process improvement method built into its facilities operations, beginning with a commitment to reach its goals. Other steps include data collection, benchmarking, aligned goals, developing the strategic plan, engaging cross-functional teams, energy conservation measures, communication and awareness, measure and reports, enhance and inform.

“We just don’t give up,” said Curtiss. “We’re fortunate at HP that most people are open-minded. They’re pretty up for giving things a chance.”

Panel discussion: Leveraging Advanced Energy Efficiency Technologies

Moderated by John Failla, Smart Energy Decisions founder and editorial director, the panel included: Jeffrey Myrdek, global director of energy and sustainability for Cisco, CBRE Group; David Reid, global energy and productivity leader, Celanese; Rafael Valdes, director of energy management, Digital Realty; and Stewart Van Horn, director, global sustainability, energy solutions, Kimberly-Clark.

Reducing energy costs is a huge issue for companies with the promise of new technologies expected to enhance their abilities to reach long-term goals. The bottom line is profit.

Myrdek sees tremendous expansion into technology to help meet sustainability goals. A big obstacle is building automation, where new technologies are stymied by cost and a lack of trained technicians. When evaluating new projects, consideration is given to finding the right vendors, determining if the project will work and save energy, and the risk of failure. On the horizon, he’s looking at new sensors as the technology becomes less expensive. He’s also interested in batteries to take the place of generators as well as uninterruptible power and shaving energy peaks.

Van Horn referenced a cogeneration plant Kimberly-Clark operates in El Salvador where the cost of energy was cut by 45% and the company can burn 50% of its sludge. The plant created a provision for enterprise zones that added local jobs and helped forward the company’s objective of getting out of landfills. Before taking on any project, Van Horn said the team reviews whether it is relevant and complementary to the business, if it can be leveraged in a full-scale way, and the magnitude the technology can deliver. Projects that move forward into a pilot program go through 18-24 months of review.

For Valdes, the goal is data, and the biggest obstacle to meeting his goals is securing stakeholder support. Staying focused and being nimble is crucial. He said the long-term objective is getting a whole organization that wants to innovate.

Reid referenced a technology project with NASA in 2016 and 2017 that helped Celanese, a chemical manufacturer, better understand the process of converting chemicals from one material to another. He also discussed the need to implement changes in big operating plants, where safety issues are tantamount. The cost of failure is very high, he said. Celanese has plants that range from two to 75 years old and implanting technological changes at some locations that don't have adequate data is challenging.

Keynote: Energy-as-a-Service: A New Way Forward or Latest Industry Buzzword? Mike Storch, president & CEO, EnerNOC, an Enel Group Company. Storch said Enel has set a goal of becoming 50% carbon neutral in the coming years and is looking to evolve from traditional utility thinking.The traditional utility model is changing, he said, commenting, “We want to offer more value through energy, for shared value.” During his presentation, Storch noted that approximately 90% of the data in the world today was created over the past two years; 64% of energy is consumed by commercial and industrial consumers, and only 5% of companies use software to track and analyze energy data.

Down the line, Storch thinks batteries will become increasing economical, that gas turbines will be married with batteries. He identified some game-changing technologies: batteries, wind and solar with batteries, and electric vehicles.

Storch acknowledging an increasingly complex energy marketplace with rapidly evolving technology choices, changing regulation, volatile prices, complex tariff structure, payback hurdles, unreliable supply, and fragmented suppliers. He also identified energy as a service as a that is evolving, and that companies are trying to focus on a holistic approach.

 

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