More growth for less energy consumption? Energy efficiency can make it happen. This year, the Energy show at HANNOVER MESSE will again feature a large number of companies demonstrating precisely this point.
One of these companies is Glen Dimplex Deutschland GmbH. The German subsidiary of the international Glen Dimplex Group supplies heating and cooling systems ranging from domestic heat pumps to industrial installations. Director Marketing Communications Sigmund Perner outlines the company's perspective on energy efficiency: "As an industry, we need to do more to integrate the use of heating and cooling. At the moment, these systems tend to be separate. But by integrating them using intelligent temperature management systems, we can achieve major cost savings for industrial users." Perner also notes that much remains to be done over the next few years to ensure compliance with the upcoming ban on environmentally harmful refrigerants.
Not that heating and cooling are the only areas that offer efficiency gains. In fact, there is room for improvement in almost all other areas of production. Admittedly, realizing those gains is sometimes difficult because the current relatively low oil prices are a barrier to securing large-scale investment in energy-saving technology. However part of the problem is awareness, or rather, lack of it. Which is why, in Germany, companies from a wide range of backgrounds have banded together to form "Energieeffizienz 360" - an initiative aimed at raising awareness of energy issues in industrial circles. The initiative comprises Glen Dimplex Deutschland GmbH, Kaeser Kompressoren SE (compressed-air systems), Neuenhauser (LED technology, lighting) and Gildemeister (energy-efficiency consulting). One part of the initiative's brief is to highlight the enormously broad scope for efficiency-enhancing technical optimization in industrial contexts. The other is to raise awareness of the fact that individual parts of the energy paradigm can be integrated using the latest advances in digitalization, thereby making them more efficient both to operate and to control.
Achieving this integration requires well-designed data-driven energy management systems. The success of such systems hinges on capturing, visualizing and analyzing energy data with reference to the underlying production data. "It's about tracking how much energy is used, where it is used and when," explains Karsten Reese, General Manager of IngSoft GmbH, a company that will be exhibiting at the Digital Energy display in Hall 12 at the Energy show. IngSoft GmbH develops software for integrated energy management. "The product innovation that we will be presenting relates to a software solution that uses automated algorithms to detect patterns from among thousands of energy load profiles," explains Reese, who welcomes the growing interest in energy transparency among industrial firms. Of course, transparency requires good data, and for that you need accurate, smart measurement technology of the kind that Janitza electronics GmbH will be presenting at the Energy show. The core functions of Janitza's measurement technology include voltage quality determination, differential current measurement and residual current detection. These themes of integration, measurement and energy efficiency will doubtless also be among the topics that trade visitors and experts will be discussing in depth in the forums and at the exhibitor stands at this year's Energy show. In all of these discussions, the focus will be on energy management solutions that help reduce plant operating costs and boost competitiveness.
Providers of the technologies that drive energy efficiency are experiencing growing demand from the manufacturing industry. This is undoubtedly due in part to the recent introduction of mandatory energy auditing in some countries, including Germany, pursuant to EU law. But it is also being driven by the wave of digitalization that is sweeping practically all manufacturing processes.
But whatever its form and motivation, every energy-efficiency project must make sound business sense in today's competitive market. "Energy efficiency should not be an end in itself. Improving energy efficiency across the entire production and supply chain will only work if the individual users, owners and investors in the chain perceive it as offering them concrete benefits," says Stefan Kapferer, Chairman of the Executive Board of the German Energy and Water Industry Federation (BDEW). "A heavy-handed approach to energy-efficiency regulation could potentially stifle growth in the European economy. It could also lead to increased compliance bureaucracy and be very costly to administer. And that would erode public acceptance of energy efficiency programs," Kapferer warns. As alternatives to regulation, he cites various great advances over the past 25 years which, he says, were achieved without major legislative intervention: "Between 1991 and 2015, Germany's energy productivity - the ratio of economic output to energy consumption - improved by just on 50 percent."
The next chapter in this success story will be written using the new ideas and technologies presented by the Energy exhibitors at this year's HANNOVER MESSE.