‘Need for energy efficiency becoming apparent’

‘1 megawatt saved at consumption level is equivalent to 3 megawatts at production level, so it’s 3 times more efficient to work on demand than production.’

By EHUD ZION WALDOKS
February 22, 2011 01:55
4 minute read.
Illustrative photo

renewable energy plant. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Sixty percent of global companies did not monitor their energy usage last year, but the need for energy efficiency is increasingly being recognized, Mark Coroler, senior vice president for Central Europe at Schneider Electric, told The Jerusalem Post by phone from Paris on Monday.

Schneider Electric’s main focus is energy efficiency, and business is booming. The company achieved sales of more than 20 billion euros in 2010 across more than 100 countries.

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“Energy consumption worldwide is set to double by 2020. [At the same time], 50% of CO2 reduction is expected to come from energy efficiency,” he said.

Coroler said the growing awareness surrounding energy efficiency emerged about four to five years ago as a result of public pressure, which was then championed by politicians.

“First, there was global awareness led by public opinion and politicians. There was a global conference about energy management. The first really strong move was four to five years ago, at least in Western Europe. Then there was a commitment from political actors. The last thing is technology, which is clearly now on the table,” he told the Post.

Energy efficiency is a relatively easy way to reduce electricity demand and to save money.

“Last year, on a global perspective 60% of companies did not manage their energy consumption. The first step to be done is to monitor energy consumption. They know how much they spent on IT, transportation, salaries, etc, but on an energy level they don’t know.

“When you start to monitor, you start to analyze, then you create action plans,” Coroler said.

“One megawatt saved at the consumption level is equivalent to three megawatts at the production level. So it’s three times more efficient to work on demand than production. We only work on the demand side. The production side is long cycles – building coal, gas, or nuclear power plants which take years,” he pointed out.

Among its many products, Schneider Electric offers what it calls the “Ecostructure” to manage energy needs. The Ecostructure connects all systems into one to monitor energy use and implement action plans.

“We see opportunities everywhere. Take buildings, for instance. Energy efficiency can reduce 20-25% off worldwide electrical consumption. For example, people believe that a government building, hotel or hospital doesn’t consume that much electricity. They think high consumers are industry and transportation.

“However, a mid-sized hospital will pay more for their energy than their medicines,” he said.

Nevertheless, industry is also beginning to understand that energy efficiency is a good way to reduce costs.

“Energy efficiency is a driver to reduce costs. We had a client in Poland, a factory producing chemical equipment. They told us that by reducing their energy costs we helped them be more competitive,” he said.

Coroler said Schneider Electric was also heavily involved in the infrastructure and residential arenas as well.

As a natural extension of its business, Schneider Electric also plans and constructs photovoltaic solar fields. The company had more than 600 solar projects worldwide – including a 43MW project in Italy.

Turning to an analysis of the local scene, Coroler said Israel was a valuable source of entrepreneurship and innovation.

“Israel is interesting because of its technological innovation and entrepreneurship. That is why we will be at the Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Conference [which begins on Tuesday]. We want to partner with Israeli companies,” he said.

Eilat-Eilot will showcase Israeli technologies while bringing together the who’s who of the Israeli renewable energy field and many guests from abroad.

Philippe Brami, Israel country president at Schneider Electric, added, “In Israel we see more and more people speaking about energy efficiency, about not importing heavy-demand appliances.

“On top of that, our added value is the process. If we rely only on passive energy-efficiency actions, we will not reach the target. In Israel, the entrepreneurial spirit makes them understand that there is a way to make really consistent savings. Especially in industry. They see their consumption as an expensive asset and have the technical skills to reduce it. We bring them the solution and then they immediately understand there is something to win,” he said.

Coroler said the company’s advantage was its flexibility. Schneider Electric offers top to bottom solutions but can also provide individual elements of the solution as well. Coroler added that one of the company’s strategies was to fit itself to all local regulations, and it had already done so in Israel.

Coroler praised Israel’s solar policy.

“Successful countries find a good balance. We see that in Spain, Germany, Italy, Canada, there are lots of examples.

There always needs to be a good balance between public leadership – it must be present to give quotas and monitor feed-in tariffs – and private entrepreneurship to invest,” he said.

Brami concurred.

“The methodology is very good and very efficient compared to other models. That has nothing to do with the fact that there are some bureaucratic processes that are making it a bit more difficult. The method of spreading out growth over four years leads to stability as well,” he said.


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