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Given the finite hydrocarbon resources that we have, we need to be efficient in : 1) Generating power, 2) Transmitting the same to the point of usage and 3) Utilization (doing/making more of whatever we are doing/making, with the same amount of energy). A holistic energy conservation is a sustainable and green solution which can alleviate part of our on going energy crisis. Given the prevailing wasteful scenario in Bangladesh, it could be equivalent to commissioning a new 700MW or so power station, ready to supply power to the grid right away at a minimal investment cost and almost no running expenditures. This is a real and tangible source of energy on a par with oil, gas, coal & nuclear. So much so that energy management gurus nowadays call it the fifth fuel. Energy conservation is a string of well thought out and wisely designed measures that needs to be administered at different planes simultaneously and sustained over a long period of time. A team of policy makers and technocrats needs to be driving this program who have the ability to zoom in on to details, fix the nuts bolts if need be and zoom out, take the big picture view and balance various multi dimensional activities. Not an one off glitzy affair like commissioning of a shiny new power plant under the glaring lights of the media, though. Please dont get me wrong we definitely do need lot more additional power in the grid. All I mean to say is : lets always consider conservation as a part of the total solution and also make overall efficiency of conversion the vital screening parameter when we are selecting a new power plant. Lets ask questions like : how many MW output for how many NM3/Hour of gas input? And what happens with the waste heat? We should not sit back and assume that, efficiency is some how taken care of in the power producers profitability calculations. In a recent ICC sponsored energy seminar we heard the Danish delegate say that : in Denmark, power generation remained constant over the past few years though there has been increment on the demand side in response to the growth in their economy. The reason behind this paradox is : whatever increase in demand came along the way was met by energy that has been saved through energy conservation measures. Many discrete measures that did the job were actually bits and pieces of a nation wide program, jointly orchestrated by the private & public sectors, within a prudently designed regulatory and fiscal framework. And this is the case with a country where opportunity to reduce energy wastage is quite low compared to our situation, where waste is ubiquitous. Where public or organizational oversight is scanty to make it binding on the power companies to generate power at the highest possible efficiency level, where electric heating is not considered to be a sin (though overall energy conversion wise it is the most wasteful way of heating) or where gas boilers/heaters/kilns of even large government and private sector industries are seldom (if ever) checked/tuned to ensure proper combustion of precious natural gas, where wasting nearly 90% of electricity in the form of heat is deemed normal while lighting up bulbs for illumination purpose.

We need a regulatory and fiscal framework designed to reward those who are energy efficient and punish who are wasteful with it. Further, we need to create an enabling atmosphere where industries, institutions and individuals will be coached, encouraged and financially assisted to implement energy saving measures, here and now. This carrot and stick policy will quickly usher in a new era of energy conservation and to a considerable extent mitigate todays acute energy crisis.
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So, how do we determine, say, among the power producers who are energy efficient and who are not? How we rate them? How we measure efficiency in the first place? In essence, efficiency is : the percentage of input to a system that comes out as useful output. So if we are to judge which one, between two power plants A & B, is more efficient, we may sidestep all the engineering detail and just put in, say10,000 cubic meter (NM3) of natural gas, roughly having 100 MWH of chemical energy in it, into each and measure how many MWH they churn out as electricity that should give the efficiency figures. If A produces 60 MWH of electricity and B a meagre 30 MWH, then A, in all fairness, should be rated as doubly efficient compared with B, right? Yes, in a world where electricity is the only desirable output. The world we live in, however, is seldom so. The energy that we use on a daily basis, in domestic or industrial arena, has two useful components: Electricity & Heat. And efficiency of a plant should be judged in this backdrop. Example: A shoe factory needs more or less a total 100 MWH of energy to produce 40,000 shoes. Of which 70 MWH is in the form of heat and 30 MWH as electricity. If this factory opts for power plant B of the above example and retrofits it with appropriate waste heat recovery system the following may happen. B produces additional 40 MWH power, albeit in the form of heat, salvaged from its hot exhaust gas and cooling water which were previously responsible for draining out 70 MWH of its input energy. In this changed scenario, the total useful energy this system now teases out from 10,000 NM3 of gas is 70 MWH (30 MWH electricity + 40 MWH of heat energy) as opposed to 60 MWH that plant A struggles to produce (as electricity alone). So in a holistic consideration, now, its obvious that plant B, is more efficient. If retrofitting a plant with co-gen system is the issue it can be done with plant A as well, isnt it? Well that depends on location of a plant as well. If A is an isolated plant in the middle of nowhere it may not beat B. Lets see how.

FIG : 1

Imagine A to be an efficient combined cycle power plant dedicated for power generation located in a remote place far away from the point of usage, & B is a gas engine driven generator built in the vicinity of the production site (not really much efficient in itself) but retrofitted with co-generation system which enables it to produce both electricity and heat in the form of steam & hot water using the hot exhaust and jacket cooling water. These tailor made heat inputs enable the mill to cut back on its gas bill which it would have otherwise burned to produce these steam, hot water, hot air and warm water. Now just due to its proximity to the factory, where production equipment are guzzling both
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electricity and heat simultaneously, B enjoys the opportunity to supply the low grade heat energy salvaged from its waste streams directly to the process and utility equipment. In the case of a stand alone power plant, designed to maximize generation of electricity, there is simply no such opportunity. So, in spite of being inherently more efficient a system, A, ends up wasting most of its low grade energy in the waste streams at a much higher rate -- eventually loosing the race to its inferior counterpart.

We need to draw the base line for specific energy requirement for various products that we are producing as a nation which is : the total (thermal + electrical) energy requirement to produce one unit of product. Simply from the past years utility bills and production figures each industry can determine this. What is the standard energy requirement to dye & coat 1 kg of nylon/polyester fabric? How much we need to produce 1 ton of ceramic tableware? How about apparel? How many KWH we need to produce a moderately complicated jacket? So, if today we need, say, 23 KWH of energy to dye & finish a kilo of fabric. How do we encourage and enable the industry to produce the same 1 kg utilizing 18 KWH or less. A multi tiered tariff may be designed in such a way that, as a factory becomes more and more energy efficient less and less the cost of energy gets for that factory and vice versa. The technical part of energy saving is relatively easier to tackle because lot of simple energy saving devices are now a days available off the shelf which can vastly improve the energy efficiency. Even few straight forward dos and donts enforced by the appropriate authorities can go a long way in terms of energy conservation. Things like : heating by electricity NOT allowed, for engine generators : NO cogeneration NO license, no condensate return system no factory permit, exhaust gas analysis (by a 3rd party) is a prerequisite for the boiler license renewal, no incandescent light allowed for lighting purpose.

Industries vary with regard to what proportion of its total energy need is thermal and how much is electrical. While textile is more heat based (85% thermal + 15% electricity), apparel depends mostly on electricity (98% electricity + 2% thermal). It is interesting to note that, when these industries, on the far end of the spectrum, are grouped together and led to share common power & utility, opportunities open up and waste streams which heather to have not been considered as suitable candidates for recovery, suddenly becomes viable pushing the overall efficiency of conversion to newer heights. So holistically speaking, how much gas can we really save, if say, one medium size fabric dyeing mill (6 tons per day output) and one large apparel with daily production of 7000 pcs of technical jacket are vertically integrated. Example : Lets calculate the total gas that is to be burnt in order to make balanced output of 2 kg of fabric and 5.55 pcs of jackets first in a scenario, where the composite factory gets power from the grid (produced in a plant like A) and burns additional (4.025 NM3) gas in its boiler to generate steam for its textile part and in a different scenario where it produces its own power for both garment and fabric production (in plant B) and harnesses (20.89 KWH) heat from the gensets hot exhaust to reduce its gas consumption (to a 1.66 NM3) in steam boilers. So, for the same output, a vertical operation with in-house power generation (having co-gen) can save more than 15% gas consumption on a holistic consideration (pls refer to table 1 & 2 in figures).

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The energy requirements assumed in the above examples are as follows. For 2 kg of fabric the total energy requirement is about 40 Kwh (35 Kwh thermal + 5 kwh electricity) & for 5.55 pcs of garment its 10 kwh of electricity (the small thermal component was neglected).

Further, the opportunity of absorbing the CO2 coming out of a generator in the ETP of the textile industry to neutralize the alkaline effluent, holds promise for effective carbon sequestering a remedy for global warming. So may be in future, we will see more industries (with varied mix of thermal and electrical energy needs) clustered together with their output well tuned sharing a common facility & pre-engineered arrangements to salvage energy from each others waste streams. Such clusters of efficient mills will have their own plants producing power and heat in a balanced proportion so that ultimately same production output is achieved with less gas. With distance between generation & point of utilization virtually eliminated, transmission loss will also be considerably reduced too. Possibly, number of isolated power plants optimized for electrical output only will ultimately dwindle down just as the numbers of dinosaurs did.



Select power plants based on holistic efficiency and make it binding on the power producers to produce power at the highest level of efficiency. It is to be ensured that we get most of the energy input (from combustion of hydrocarbon) converted to electrical output and the rest as heat which is to be sold to neighbouring heat intensive industries enabling them to reduce gas usage at their end. Design a tiered energy tariff system to favour energy efficient mills over wasteful ones. Arrest waste of energy by enforcing few simple and straightforward DOS and DONTS.

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Yameen : 22.04.2010