Energy Efficiency as the Industry’s Way to Survive the Covid-19 Crisis

By Herninta Lagoon Fatika and Rika Safrina

Friday, 29 January 2021

Since the emergence of the Covid-19 outbreak, countries around the world are still trying to cope and minimise its impact on the industry sector. Physical distancing and working from the home scheme have naturally affected many companies and the way they operate. To ease the pandemic impact, practicing the energy efficiency and conservation (EE&C) measures could be considered by the industries.

During the 38th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting hosted virtually by Vietnam in November 2020, ASEAN has recognised the importance of emerging cross-sectoral imperatives including economic recovery and digitalisation. The 6th ASEAN Energy Outlook analysis that was endorsed during the meeting also indicated about 70 per cent potential final energy consumption savings from the transport and industry sectors including potentially huge gains from further expanding the region’s energy efficiency and conservation programme. Therefore, the strategy of economic recovery must also include investments in technological transformation in the industry sector. Several best practices to consider are Energy Management Systems, Building Automation Systems, and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure.

Energy Management System

Energy saving is one of the industry’s efforts to continue to grow because of its great potential in cost reduction. Astra International, a multi-diversified Indonesian company, has opted for energy-saving to survive the Covid-19 pandemic, compared to layoffs. The company reported they could save up to $8 million by implementing Energy Management System (EnMS). Astra also built their employees’ awareness by the utilization of smart timer to automate electricity usage.

EnMS are computer-based systems that collect energy measurement data from devices and making it available to users through online monitoring tools. From the graphics or dashboards in the tool, users are able to monitor their energy consumption and improve energy efficiency. The use of EnMS in the ASEAN is now growing rapidly in building smart cities to drive the faster energy transition. For instance, an integrated district in Bangkok, Thailand, which includes office, housing, and hospital, was fully equipped with EnMS and centralised security.

Energy efficiency can also be applied in the production line. For instance, Pupuk Kaltim, an ammonia producer in Indonesia, has carried out factory energy management in production, such as maintaining the use amount of ammonia by and rescheduling turnaround time. By saving energy, the company is able to lower operational costs and survive economically. This method is considered more effective with long-term benefits than lowering prices, reducing manufacturing outputs, or closing the factory completely.

Building Automation System

Furthermore, the use of technology in the management and operations must be environmental-friendly. A company could employ building automation systems (BAS) for optimising heating, ventilation, air condition, elevator, and lighting in the office or factory. These smart systems exploit advanced technologies such as machine learning and business intelligence to interpret the amount of energy consumed and improve greater efficiencies under dynamic conditions.

While EnMS monitors energy expenditures and energy savings potentials, BAS can automatically control the electronic devices to stop or start operating in order to save energy. Many buildings in ASEAN already implemented this system. For example, Chairul Saleh building, one of the buildings of Indonesia’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, could save 318,700 kilowatts per hour in 2019 after BAS utilisation, around 21.17 per cent of its energy consumption in 2016. Recently, it won the second runner-up of the ASEAN EE&C Awards 2020 under the category Small and Medium Energy Management in Buildings.

BAS is also often implemented in the airport for controlling jetways and waste disposal. Some examples in ASEAN can be seen in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and Penang International Airport in Malaysia, and Changi Airport in Singapore. BAS in the airport maximise energy efficiency by connecting and managing many systems such as fire detection, airport security, and baggage handling.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

Another effective way in reducing energy consumption in offices and factories are by using Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). VDI is a standardised desktop environment using the organisation’s network that can be accessed by employees from anywhere. Not only providing simple desktop management and operation, but it also increases security and reduces the risk of systems’ downtime. It comes with two options: Hybrid Cloud and Multi Cloud.

Although these two terms are often used interchangeably, they possess main difference in the location of non-cloud resources. Hybrid clouds utilise existing on-premises servers, storage, and networking. Whereas in a multi-cloud (not hybrid) environment, those resources are also in the cloud, either at the same provider providing compute services or co-location facility.

Research shows VDI can save up to 75% on hardware utilisation, require less power, and conserve nearly 90% energy footprint per user. This technology could reduce costs while answering the accelerated demand from the organisations to comply with the work-from-home scheme, thus improving business’ productivity. Building the infrastructure needed to support the digital world and always updating the latest technology is very important for every business to stay competitive and run efficiently after Covid-19.

Every organization must have a plan to anticipate unpredictable events by ensuring availability, scalability, and disaster recovery that does not depend on a single location. By implementing a Hybrid or Multi-cloud strategy, if there is a disruption in one cloud, resources can still be accessed by utilizing another cloud that is owned.

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic is an emergency that no country could anticipate before. Nevertheless, industry sectors in Southeast Asia can overcome the crisis and come back stronger than before. Adapting energy efficiency and conservation in the management, operational, and building could accelerate business recovery.

(Photo Credit: Technology, Pexels)

Stay updated!