An international energy expert talks with a senior engineer about our most energy-intensive operation
Benoît Lebot is the Executive Director of IPEEC (International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation) in Paris, whose members include 17 of the G20 countries. Lebot studied civil engineering. Before joining IPEEC in 2014, he worked for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Tricia Schaffrik studied mechanical engineering at West Point Military Academy and completed her master’s degree in St. Louis (U.S.). She began her career at ALTANA in a branch of the ELANTAS division in the U.S. Since 2015, she has been head of Global Engineering Services in the ECKART division in Hartenstein near Nuremberg.
Mr. Lebot, you’ve just returned from the UN climate conference, COP23. Is the chemical industry taking responsibility for reaching the climate goals?
Benoît Lebot: The chemical industry is no different from other industries in this respect. We all have to face the fact that climate change has long been a reality. But we can limit the consequences of climate change. However, the known solutions for limiting greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement are not being harnessed sufficiently.
… because the industry isn’t committed enough?
Benoît Lebot: I’m sure that industrial companies like ALTANA have already made great progress. But is that which has been achieved commensurate with the long-term goals we agreed on in Paris? To prevent global warming of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, we have to change the way we are managing economic development. I do see encouraging steps being taken, but do not think we have fully mobilized our forces, which is indispensable to this end. In particular, governments and institutions are called upon to push ahead dialog at all levels – government, the private sector, and society as a whole – as well as an exchange of best-practice solutions.
Tricia Schaffrik: I agree with you, but I’d like to add one important point. Energy and sustainability management is also a cultural issue. If a company or a nation is not prepared to anchor this conviction in its culture, it cannot be successful in the end. That’s why we at ALTANA are establishing the necessary links between our management programs and our corporate culture.
What considerations played a part in the decision for a combined heat and power plant at your site in Hartenstein near Nuremberg?
Tricia Schaffrik: We took the decision in an environment of rising electricity prices, when the use of combined heat and electricity production was supported by subsidies. And not least of all, we sought to develop our own ideas on how to reduce CO² emissions. Building the plant was a big investment for us. We want to make our contribution, there’s no doubt about that. But we also have to think and act economically as a company.
What other measures have you taken?
Tricia Schaffrik: Since 2007 we have pursued several projects, first and foremost the switch from oil to natural gas, but also the reduction of compressed-air leaks, heat recovery from compressors, as well as the use of highly efficient motors and controlling them via frequency converters. The successes achieved are the low-hanging fruit, as it were, which we are able to harvest quickly. However, we’ve reached a point where it is becoming more and more difficult to identify further savings potential. At bottom, the methods used to successfully manufacture our products have not changed for around 100 years. But now we have to change these established processes to further increase our energy efficiency.
Benoît Lebot: That’s music to my ears! The determination to take the next step, to initially improve every single plant and then to take a step back again, in order to understand the entire process and its consequences for climate protection, to be able to take appropriate action … This attitude and approach illustrate what it’s all about. We have to transform into a knowledgebased economy. The most important untapped potential is that which is in our heads. And there are already a number of instruments, including ISO 50001…
… a worldwide valid standard of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which aims to support organizations and companies in the development of systematic energy management systems …
Benoît Lebot: … precisely. It is a very good method of enabling energy management in every system. But it is used much too seldom.
Ms. Schaffrik, what is ECKART’s attitude to ISO 50001?
Tricia Schaffrik: ECKART has been ISO 50001 certified since 2012. This instrument helped us have a more structured approach to energy and sustainability management. It is a very good approach for determining our position regarding energy efficiency and future action. But here too we have to deal efficiently with the personnel resources used for this.
What could help? Perhaps a software?
Tricia Schaffrik: I’m not an advocate of a global approach to hardware, software, or platforms. Why? Because as an American in Germany I know that national, cultural, and methodological differences should not be underestimated. Like Mr. Lebot, I’m an advocate of knowledge exchange, of best practice and personal commitment. That’s important for success. That’s what we need.
What can best practice look like?
Tricia Schaffrik: We have to measure and understand the processes completely, in other words, we have to know where, how much, and what kind of energy is used at every minute of the day. With this understanding and the data in real time, we can decide where to best use the heat and electricity that are generated. We can share this experience in the company – as well as at regional forums – and transfer it to other applications.
Benoît Lebot: Your remarks, Ms. Schaffrik, very aptly show that we can only change the energy system if we understand it. The exact same thing is true when it comes to climate protection goals. We have already been able to pick a few low-hanging fruits. But we also have to find the ones that are hanging higher or that are difficult to recognize. That’s why we need knowledgebased approaches, access to data. Only when we pick the other fruit, too, can we reach our global climate-protection goals.
The new combined heat and power plant helps ECKART reduce its energy costs by up to 700,000 Euros a year. In addition, CO2 emissions can be lowered.
RELIEF FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
CHP AT ECKART
In 2017, ALTANA already reached its goal of reducing its specific CO2 emissions by 30 % in the period from 2007 to 2020. The investment in a combined heat and power plant (CHP) at ECKART made a decisive contribution.
- 30 % CO2-EMISSIONS¹
¹ Total amount in relation to the gross value added.