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Energy management in the industry sector: A dynamic tool for energy saving and cost reduction

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It is widely acknowledged that industry is one of the most important sectors of any state economy, contributing to its strategy for national development and security. Even though important technological improvements have been achieved in the production processes, still a profound characteristic of industrial activity is its gross energy consumption, which in many cases is liable for product costs and eventually competitiveness.

Enormous amounts of energy are consumed in the industrial sector world-wide, leading to the increase of production costs and emissions of pollutants. Therefore, control and minimisation of energy consumption in production processes are considered of major importance within modern industrial management. This aspect could even constitute the critical parameter for many industries determining either their survival or diminishment/even closure. In this frame, industrial Energy Management Systems (EMSs) is an important tool towards energy saving and cost reduction.

Before commenting on the benefits of such a system, a definition of the terms “energy management” and “Energy management system (EMS)” is necessary. Energy management refers to the implementation of organisational and technical measures in a financially sustainable way, aiming to reduce energy consumption, (including the energy consumed for the final products), along with assuring the sustainability of results in the long-term. Consequently, energy management should be regarded as a distinct corporate function, which intervenes both in the production process and in the general procedures under which the company operates. Therefore, both implementation and budgeting of energy management actions must be included in the corporate operational flow chart of a company, whereas their appropriate prioritisation is equally important.

The implementation of an EMS requires the existence –or the set up in some cases– of particular basic structures that shall comprise the foundations of system development; at the same time, the commitment of the corporate administration to the system’s implementation is essential. It has to be noted that the latter is crucial, since all decisions taken within energy management have to be imminently applicable by all involved parties, so as to maximise the expected results.

A standard industry that implements an EMS may expect an improvement of its energy efficiency by 10% to 15% during the first years of its operation [1]. Available international case studies confirm energy efficiency improvement of 20% to 25%, through implementing a variety of measures in respect to the type of industry and the particularities of its function [2].

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