Energy Audit for commercial

An energy assessment will identify potential energy efficiency improvements for your business.

Why have a business energy assessment performed?

There are few reasons that justify why having an energy assessment performed for most businesses is the right decision.

To reduce your energy cost, increase your profit

Australian businesses that rely on heating or cooling to produce their products are suffering from uncertainty in energy market. There have been huge fluctuations in energy market recently. Gas price have doubled since January 2017 and electricity price have steadily increased and are becoming the most expensive electricity in globe. In these days of uncertainty, it is important to keep energy expenses to a minimum. The major difference between businesses that sustain the difficult times and those which do not survive, is that the survivors will have reduced their unnecessary energy expenditures before it is too late.
In businesses with high energy cost, unnecessary costs include costs for energy you don’t need to use or cost that could have been reduced by selecting a cheaper energy source. In the past, many businesses have just considered energy cost as “a cost of doing business”. However, now, by running an inefficient or expensive energy system, you are overpaying for energy and slashing major part of your profit. It just doesn’t make any sense.
A good commercial energy assessment will point the way to reduce your energy costs by10% to 40% per annum. For a moderately sized greenhouse grower, this can be substantial, and could mean the difference between staying afloat and going under.

To determine what are the best business energy conservation measures

There are so many vendors peddling their energy efficient solutions which are supposed to save energy–most of them do, but some don’t. Just because a device saves energy costs does not mean it is a good investment. And even if it is good investment it is important to ask how much it saves on energy costs annually.
For instance a battery storage solution for a dairy farm may save on energy costs, however, the savings might not be big enough to pay back for its initial investment and after few years when battery life is over, you might find that the whole investment cost more than its savings.
So how do you determine what the best energy conservation measures (EEM) are for your business? That is what an energy assessment is for.
The table below lists energy conservation measures from an assessment we recently performed on a greenhouse for growing flowers. In this format our client is able to easily evaluate and prioritize the different energy conservation measures/opportunities.

ECM Table- Energy Conservation Measures (If battery storage solution was on this list, the simple payback would likely have been over 15 years. It may sound good on the radio, but a sober analysis shows that there are better ways to spend your energy conservation dollars.)

 

Example of Energy Conservation Measures to save energy in horticulture and for greenhouses growers

Energy consumption in a commercial green house for is generally linked to maintaining an optimum temperature for the growth of plants. Other energy consumers are lighting, cool rooms and pumping power for water desalination, irrigation and hot water circulation. There are multiple opportunities to minimise the energy costs for green house growers. In following, few of more common energy saving measures are listed here:

 Reduce waste energy Increasing insulation on hot water distribution pipes and buffer tanks

The first simple measure to increase energy efficiency is minimizing the waste energy. Insulation can be applied to the energy distribution pipes and some areas of the hothouses. For instance, heat loss from a hot water pipe can be reduced by 60% with using 10mm thick insulation and by 77% by using 25mm Rockwool insulation. Depending on the lengths of pipes that are exposed to ambient temperature, recommendations for this measure can be finalized.

Reduce Demand – Minimizing infiltration during heating period

High Infiltration is in most cases the main factor that contributes to higher demand. The ventilation curtains shall be checked continuously to make sure infiltration is as low as possible during heating periods. halving the unnecessary infiltration can save about 30% of required heating costs.

Relationship between infiltration and heat demand (Source: University of Florida, AE030)

Delivering CO2 from boiler flue to hot houses

Thought the energy benefits are not considerable in this case, the co-benefit is increased productivity as crops consume CO2 in photosynthesis. As CO2 levels are raised by 1,000 ppm photosynthesis increases proportionately resulting in more sugars and carbohydrates available for plant growth. Any actively growing crop in a tightly clad greenhouse with little or no ventilation can readily reduce the CO2 level during the day to as low as 200 ppm. The decrease in photosynthesis when CO2 level drops from 340 ppm to 200 ppm is similar to the increase when the CO2 levels are raised from 340 to about 1,300 ppm

The effect of carbon dioxide on net photosynthesis .

Changing heating automation logic and introducing variable boiler set point

Boilers efficiency improves when the leaving water from boiler is at lower temperatures. To reduce the boiler set point and yet satisfy the variable demand, we suggest changing the automation logic from single set point to variable set point for the boiler. The boiler set point will be reduced when outdoor temperature rises to allow maximizing the efficiency of the boiler. This can be simply implemented by addition of single temperature sensor which measures the ambient temperature and writing an equation for the PLC to adjust boiler set point based on the ambient temperature. Figure bellow shows that matching the boiler output temperature with demand can improve efficiency by 15% which is about $135K saving for business owner.
The co-benefit of this measure is also increased boiler life span as corrosion rate reduces by reduced operating temperature of boiler.

Typical performance curves for a condensing boiler
 

 Addition of more heat pipes to increase efficiency of boiler

Another method to increase boiler efficiency is by increasing the surface area of the heat pipes to allow delivering the same heat in kW with hot water at lower temperature. Similar to the measure discussed above, this will allow to permanently reduce the set point and improving the boiler running efficiency.
The co- benefit of this measure is increase the productivity by increasing crop growth by 15%-30% based on a study at University of Wisconsin. It is suggested to utilize plastic HDPE pipes instead of steel pipes as heat pipe as they are far cheaper and easier to install. Based on a recent purchase for a client, the price of 25mm HDPE pipe is $0.7/m which offer easy and affordable option for this measure.

Replacing the source of energy

Heat pump heating

Another method to increase boiler efficiency is by increasing the surface area of the heat pipes to allow delivering the same heat in kW with hot water at lower temperature. Similar to the measure discussed above, this will allow to permanently reduce the set point and improving the boiler running efficiency.
The co- benefit of this measure is increase the productivity by increasing crop growth by 15%-30% based on a study at University of Wisconsin. It is suggested to utilize plastic HDPE pipes instead of steel pipes as heat pipe as they are far cheaper and easier to install. Based on a recent purchase for a client, the price of 25mm HDPE pipe is $0.7/m which offer easy and affordable option for this measure.

 
Use of gas heat pumps

There are dual source heat pumps that can get energy from both air and water. In this case, during the low tariff period, energy can be obtained from water in the dam and during the day with higher ambient air temperature, energy can be obtained from ambient air. This can allow to be on the high margin of the COP and save further $100K.
The co benefit of dual source heat pump is that they offer water to water simultaneous cooling and heating. This means, the waste heat from cooling the cool rooms can be used/stored for heating the hot houses.

 
Use of Aqua-thermal energy in the irrigation dam

Gas heat pumps are cheaper to run in Australia. They might be more expensive to install and maintain but it is worthwhile to consider the economy of this option for the Piovillico business.
The co-benefit of this measure is reduced GHG emissions as gas is by far more cleaner (about 5 times) in compared to electricity generated in Victoria with brown wet coal.

Replacing the source of energy

Sustainability Victoria $7500 Energy Assessment grant

As of May 2018, Sustainability Victoria is offering two non –competitive energy assessment grants for businesses spending over $20,000 a year on energy:

  • Basic energy assessment grant: Up to $2000 towards the cost of a basic energy assessment and a further $3000 bonus to implement energy efficiency actions. This is recommended for businesses spending between $20,000 to $50,000 on energy per annum.

Funding example: For an assessment quoted at $2600, Sustainability Victoria (SV) funds $2000, the business funds $600. The assessment report recommends an energy saving project costing $3000, SV funds the $3000 to undertake the project.

  • Detailed energy assessment grant: Half the cost of an assessment up to $15,000 and a further $5000 bonus to implement energy efficiency actions. This is recommended for businesses spending more than $50,000 on energy per annum.

Funding example: For an assessment quoted at $8200, SV funds $4100, the business funds $4100. The assessment report recommends an energy saving project costing $5000, SV funds the $5000 to undertake the project.

 

As this is a non-competitive program, a Business Productivity team adviser is available to guide you through the application process.

 

 

Geoflow Australia has been involved in this program for a long time and we are one the approved assessors with Sustainability Victoria. Geoflow’s energy assessments are based on or equivalent to a Type 2 Energy Assessment (Australian Standard AS/NZS AS3598.1:2014, AS/NZS S3598.2:2014). You can read more about this grant here.

 

Contact us for our state of art energy assessing today