2015 ESOS Guidelines Chapter 1 – Who Qualifies

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The base criteria are any UK undertaking that employs more than 250 people and/or has a turnover in excess of €50 million and/or has a balance sheet total greater than €43 million. There is little point in attempting to separate off high polluting areas. If one corporate group qualifies for ESOS, then all the others are obligated to take part too. The sterling equivalents of £38,937,777 and £33,486,489 were set on 31 December 2014 and apply to the first compliance period.

Representatives of Overseas Entities

UK registered branches of foreign entities are treated as if fully UK owned. They also have to sign up if any overseas corporate element meets the threshold no matter where in the world. The deciding factor is common ownership throughout the ESOS system. ecoVaro appreciates this. We have seen European companies dumping pollution in under-regulated countries for far too long.

Generic Undertakings that Could Comply

The common factor is energy consumption and the organisation’s type of work is irrelevant. The Environmental Agency has provided the following generic checklist of undertakings that could qualify:

Limited CompaniesPublic CompaniesTrusts
PartnershipsPrivate Equity CompaniesLimited Liability Partnerships
Unincorporated AssociationsNot-for-Profit BodiesUniversities (Per Funding)

Organisations Close to Thresholds

Organisations that come close to, but do not quite meet the qualification threshold should cast their minds back to previous accounting periods, because ESOS considers current and previous years. The exact wording in the regulations states:

“Where, in any accounting period, an undertaking is a large undertaking (or a small or medium undertaking, as the case may be), it retains that status until it falls within the definition of a small or medium undertaking (or a large undertaking, as the case may be) for two consecutive accounting periods.”

Considering the £50,000 penalty for not completing an assessment or making a false or misleading statement, it makes good sense for close misses to comply.

Joint Ventures and Participative Undertakings

If one element of a UK group qualifies for ESOS, then the others must follow suit with the highest one carrying responsibility. Franchisees are independent undertakings although they may collectively agree to participate. If trusts receive energy from a third party that must do an ESOS, then so must they. Private equity firms and private finance initiatives receive the same treatment as other enterprises. De-aggregations must be in writing following which separated ESOS accountability applies.

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EcoVaro – ESOS Solution on a Cloud

The UK’s Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme – and all others in the EU stable – is bound to generate huge quantities of data beyond the reach of processing on standalone computers. This leaves some companies in the mandatory sector between a rock and a hard place. They already have to divert scarce talent to draft compliance reports. Now they face purchasing equipment with big data processing power.

The more astute are turning to cloud computing solutions like EcoVaro in increasing numbers. They are also keen to benefit from remote secure backup. .

Increasing migration to public clouds has caused a growth in niche big data consultants. EcoVaro is one of these. We want to do more than simply open up a port and leave you to become familiar with our technology. We service a growing group of companies who want us to analyse their energy usage reports, and isolate the main demand drivers so they know where to start saving.

We are consumer-centric energy consultants with the emphasis on corporates and sme’s. We offer more than just big data processing facilities. We also help set up your dashboard and are full of practical ideas you can use to start trimming energy costs right away. So please treat us as your affordable energy partner who really wants to help.

Finally, contact EcoVaro for a discussion.

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Telemetry and the Survival of the Human Species

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Without moisture, plants die. Without fodder, the animal food chain collapses. This is why climate change is the greatest threat humankind faces. Crop management needs timely information regarding ambient conditions, and also in the soil itself. In dry areas, online knowledge of trends in rainfall, sunlight, wind speed, leaf moisture, air temperature, relative humidity and solar radiation are indicators of soil stress that can be deadly for plants, and everything that relies on them.

As climate change bites, the need to find solutions accelerates. Drones swoop across to monitor ambient conditions, while probes sunk into plants and the earth in which they grow transmit information to big data repositories for feedback to administrators. In Australia, a remarkable cattle farmer is applying the same approach to his herds.

Nuffield scholar Rob Cook has always been on the edgy side of things. He lost his mobility in a helicopter crash in 2008 patrolling farmland but that has not deterred him. If anything, it has freed his mind to explore the potential that telemetry offers farmers in Australia. He shared this potential with the young beef producers in Roma Australia recently, and here is a summary what he said.

Being wheelchair bound he had to shift from herding with cattle dogs to a more scientific approach. He bought a farm 230 miles / 370 kilometres inland from Brisbane in a warm, temperate climate with significant rainfall even in the driest months. He uses observant software that reports on critical issues like water levels indicating animal consumption, and supplementary water flows from a central irrigation channel.

He also monitors fodder sources for dryer months, and moisture levels in food stocks. Rob is committed to making every blade of grass count. ‘We even have the ability to take a photo of the cattle when they are taking a drink of water,’ he explains, and that provides valuable information regarding tick and fly infestation and overall condition.

None of this would be possible for Rob Cook without telemetry, which is the process of collecting data at remote points and transmitting it to receiving equipment for analysis. Independent farmers do not have equipment to fund these analytic resources on their own, and use big data resources in a cloud to obtain reports. ecoVaro is on top of current trends. Please speak to us when you need independent advice.

 

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ESOS Facts on a Page

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The UK’s ESOS energy saving program stands for ‘Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme’. Its purpose is to reduce demand – and hence fossil-based pollution at both ends of the supply chain. It currently applies to large UK companies only. However its guidelines are also valuable input to smaller firms voluntarily going greener.

The program threshold is 250 employees and / or turnover or at least £UK50 million. This affects approximately 9,000 UK firms, with others below the threshold wondering whether the government plans to lower it. In essence, ESOS requires that qualifying businesses complete comprehensive audits of energy use and opportunities at least every fourth year.

The plan is carrot and stick. Compliant companies will probably uncover significant savings when they stop and measure. They may even unearth carbon credits they can sometime exchange for cash. Reactionary firms who try to duck the issue will feel Her Majesty’s wrath through stiff penalties. In time, they may find it harder to attract investors. If ESOS affects your company, then the wise thing could be complying by the first deadline of 5 December 2015.

To do so, you must conduct an energy audit and report it to the UK Environment Agency. This comprises

  1. Measuring total energy use across processes, transport and facilities
  2. Pie charting 90% of this to identify areas that are energy intensive
  3. Singling out cost-effective energy-saving projects in high use areas
  4. Submitting your report to the Environment Agency ahead of the deadline

ecoVaro recommends affected companies do not leave this to the last minute. While having ISO 50001 may exempt some from ESOS, the regulations are far from straightforward and it will take months to reach complete clarification. We would like to suggest a more balanced approach.

ESOS is a wonderful incentive to save energy costs while contributing to a better future for the kids. The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme is precisely that. The cost of energy has crept up on us to the extent that we have to do something, government or no government.

Measuring energy consumption is as simple as installing meters at critical points in the flow, and you probably have many of them anyway. Once you have your data you no longer have to crunch the numbers. ecoVaro can do this for you and return the result in the form of handy graphs and spreadsheets.

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2015 ESOS Guidelines Chapter 3 – The ESOS Assessment

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ESOS operates in tandem with the ISO 50001 (Energy Management) system that encourages continual improvement in the efficient use of energy. Any UK enterprise qualifying for ESOS that has current ISO 50001 certification on the compliance date by an approved body (and that covers the entire UK corporate group) may present this as evidence of having completed its ESOS assessment. It does however still require board-level certification, following which it must notify the Environment Agency accordingly.

The Alternate ESOS Route

In the absence of an ISO 50001 energy management certificate addressing comprehensive energy use, a qualifying UK enterprise must:

  1. Measure Total Energy Consumption in either kWh or energy spend in pounds sterling, and across the entire operation including buildings, industrial processes and transport.
  2. Identify Areas of Significant Energy Consumption that account for at least 90% of the total. The balance falls into a de minimis group that is officially too trivial to merit consideration.
  3. Consider Available Routes to Compliance. These could include ISO 500001 part-certification, display energy certificates, green deal assessments, ESOS compliant energy audits, self-audits and independent assessments
  4. Do an Internal Review to make sure that you have covered every area of significant consumption. This is an important strategic step to avoid the possibility of failing to comply completely.
  5. Appoint an Approved Lead Assessor who may be internal or external to your enterprise, but must have ESOS approval. This person confirms you have met all ESOS requirements (unless you have no de minimis exceptions).
  6. Obtain Internal Certification by one of more board-level directors. They must certify they are satisfied with the veracity of the reports. They must also confirm that the enterprise is compliant with the scheme.
  7. Notify the Environment Agency of Compliance within the deadline using the online notification system at snapsurveys.com as soon as the enterprise believes is fully compliant.
  8. Assemble your ESOS Evidential Pack and back it up in a safe place. Remember, it is your responsibility to provide proof of the above. Unearthing evidence a year later it not something to look forward to.

The ESOS assessment process is largely self-regulatory, although there are checks and balances in place including lead assessor and board-level certifications. As you work through what may seem to be a nuisance remember the primary objectives. These are saving money and reducing carbon emissions. Contact Ecovaro if we can assist in any way.

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ESOS What is the Truth?

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When the UK administration introduced its ESOS Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme reactions from business people followed a familiar theme.

  • Do nothing it will go away
  • The next Westminster will drop this
  • Another stealth tax. I don’t have time for this
  • Give the problem to admin and tell them to fix it

ecovaro decided to share three facts with you. These are

(1) ESOS is not a government money spinner

(2) all major political parties support it, and

(3) it is a cost-effective way to put money back in your pocket while feeling better about what business pumps into the environment.

Four More ESOS Facts

1. You Cannot Give the Problem to Admin – Energy is technical. The lead belongs with your operations staff because they understand how your systems work. Some things are best outsourced though. ecovaro is here to help.

2. ESOS is Not Going to Go Away – A company inside the regulation net must submit its first report by 6 December 2015. Non-compliance risks the following penalties:

  • £5,000 for not maintaining adequate records
  • £50,000 for not completing the assessment
  • £50,000 for making a false or misleading statement

3. The Employee Count is the Annual Average – The employment criteria (unlike balance sheet and turnover) is the monthly average of full and part-time employees taken across the full financial year. The fact you have <250 employees in December 2015 when the first report is due does not necessarily let you off the hook.

4. The 6 December 2014 Report is No Big Deal – When you think about it the administration is hardly likely to spend years wading through 9,000 detailed company energy plans. It has no authority to comment in any case. All that is required is for a senior director to confirm reading the document, and a lead assessor to agree it complies with the law.

Does this mean that ESOS is a damp squib? We do not think so, although some firms may take the low road. ecovaro believes the financial benefits will carry the process forward, and that the imperative to make the world a better place will do the rest.

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What Energy Management Software did for CDC

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Chrome Deposit Corporation – that’s CDC for short – reconditions giant rollers used to finish steel and aluminium sheets in Portage, Indiana by applying grinding, texturing and plating methods. While management was initially surprised when the University of Delaware singled their plant out for energy assessment, this took them on a journey to bring energy consumption down despite being in an expansion phase.

Metal finishing and refinishing is an energy-intensive business where machines mainly do the work while workforces as small as 50 individuals tend them. Environmental impacts also need countering within a challenging environment of burgeoning natural gas and electricity prices.

The Consultant’s Recommendations

The University of Delaware was fortunate that Chrome Deposit Corporation had consistently measured its energy consumption since inception in 1986. This enabled it to pinpoint six strategies as having potential for technological and process improvements.

  • Insulate condensate tanks and pipes
  • Analyse flue gas air-fuel ratios
  • Lower compressed air pressures
  • Install stack dampers on boilers
  • Replace belts with pulleys and cogs
  • Fit covers on plant exhaust fans

CDC implemented only four of the six recommendations. This was because the boiler manufacturer did not recommend stack dampers, and the company was unable to afford certain process automation and controls.

Natural Gas Savings

The project team began by analysing stack gases from boilers used to heat chrome tanks and evaporate wastewater. They found the boilers were burning rich and that several joints in gas lines were leaking. Correcting these issues achieved an instant gas saving of 12% despite increased production.

Reduced Water Consumption

The team established that city water was used to cool the rectifiers. It reduced this by an astonishing 85% by implementing a closed-loop system and adding two chillers. This also helped the water company spend less on chemicals, and energy to drive pumps, purifiers and fans.

Summary of Benefits

Electricity consumption reduced by 18% in real terms, and natural gas by 35%. When these two savings are merged they represent an overall 25% energy saving. These benefits were implemented across the company’s six other plants, resulting in benefits CDC management never dreamed of when the University of Delaware approached them.

ecoVaro offers a similar data analytics service that is available online worldwide. We have helped other companies slash their energy bills with similarly exciting results. We’ll be delighted to share ideas that only data analytics can reveal.

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How Mid-South Metallurgical cut Energy Use by 22%

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Mid-South in Murfreesboro, Tennessee operates a high-energy plant providing precision heat treatments for high-speed tools – and also metal annealing and straightening services. This was a great business to be in before the energy crisis struck. That was about the same time the 2009 recession arrived. In no time at all the market was down 30%.

Investors had a pile of capital sunk into Mid-South’s three facilities spread across 21,000 square feet (2,000 square meters) of enclosed space. Within them, a number of twenty-five horsepower compressors plus a variety of electric, vacuum and atmospheric furnaces pumped out heat 27/7, 52 weeks a year. After the company called in the U.S. Department of Energy for assistance, several possibilities presented.

Insulate the Barium Chloride Salt Baths

The barium chloride salt baths used in the heat treatment process and operating at 1600°F (870°C) were a natural choice, since they could not be cooled below 1200°F (650°C) when out of use without hardening the barium chloride and clogging up the system. The amount of energy taken to prevent this came down considerably after they covered and insulated them. The recurring annual electricity saving was $53,000.

Manage Electrical Demand & Power

The utility delivers 480 volts of power to the three plants that between them consume between 825- and 875-kilowatt hours depending on the season. Prior to the energy crisis Mid-South Metallurgical regarded this level of consumption as a given. Following on the Department of Energy survey the company replaced the laminar flow burner tips with cyclonic burner ones, and implemented a number of other modifications to enhance thermal efficiency further. The overall natural gas reduction was 20%.

Implement Large Scale Site Lighting Upgrade

The 24/7 nature of the business makes lighting costs a significant factor. Prior to the energy upgrade this came from 44 older-type 400-watt metal halide fixtures. By replacing these with 88 x 8-foot (2.5 meter) fluorescent fittings Mid-South lowered maintenance and operating costs by 52%

The Mid-South Metallurgical Trophy Cabinet

These three improvements cut energy use by 22%, reduced peak electrical demand by 21% and brought total energy costs down 18%. Mid-South continues to monitor energy consumption at each strategic point, as it continues to seek out even greater energy efficiency in conjunction with its people.

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How Alcoa Canned the Cost of Recycling

Alcoa is one of the world’s largest aluminium smelting and casting multinationals, and involves itself in everything from tin cans, to jet engines to single-forged hulls for combat vehicles. Energy costs represent 26% of the company’s total refining costs, while electricity contributes 27% of primary production outlays. Its Barberton Ohio plant shaved 30% off both energy use and energy cost, after a capital outlay of just $21 million, which for it, is a drop in the bucket.

Aluminium smelting is so expensive that some critics describe the product as ‘solid electricity’. In simple terms, the method used is electrolysis whereby current passes through the raw material in order to decompose it into its component chemicals. The cryolite electrolyte heats up to 1,000 degrees C (1,832 degrees F) and converts the aluminium ions into molten metal. This sinks to the bottom of the vat and is collected through a drain. Then they cast it into crude billets plugs, which when cooled can be re-smelted and turned into useful products.

The Alcoa Barberton factory manufactures cast aluminium wheels across approximately 50,000 square feet (4,645 square meters) of plant. It had been sending its scrap to a sister company 800 miles away; who processed it into aluminium billets – before sending them back for Barberton to turn into even more wheels. By building its own recycling plant 60 miles away that was 30% more efficient, the plant halved its energy costs: 50% of this was through process engineering, while the balance came from transportation.

The transport saving followed naturally. The recycling savings came from a state-of-the-art plant that slashed energy costs and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Interestingly enough, processing recycled aluminium uses just 5% of energy needed to process virgin bauxite ore. Finally, aluminium wheels are 45% lighter than steel, resulting in an energy saving for Alcoa Barberton’s customers too.

The changes helped raise employee awareness of the need to innovate in smaller things too, like scheduling production to increase energy efficiency and making sure to gather every ounce of scrap. The strategic change created 30 new positions and helped secure 350 existing jobs.

The direction that Barberton took in terms of scrap metal recycling was as simple as it was effective. The decision process was equally straightforward. First, measure your energy consumption at each part of the process, then define the alternatives, forecast the benefits, confirm and implement. Of course, you also need to be able to visualise what becomes possible when you break with tradition.

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FUJIFILM Cracks the Energy Code

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FUJIFILM was in trouble at its Dayton, Tennessee plant in 2008 where it produced a variety of speciality chemicals for industrial use. Compressed-air breakdowns were having knock-on effects. The company decided it was time to measure what was happening and solve the problem. It hoped to improve reliability, cut down maintenance, and eliminate relying on nitrogen for back-up (unless the materials were flammable).

The company tentatively identified three root causes. These were (a) insufficient system knowledge within maintenance, (b) weak spare part supply chain, and (c) generic imbalances including overstated demand and underutilised supply. The maintenance manager asked the U.S. Department of Energy to assist with a comprehensive audit of the compressed air system.

The team began on the demand side by attaching flow meters to each of several compressors for five days. They noticed that – while the equipment was set to deliver 120 psi actual delivery was 75% of this or less. They found that demand was cyclical depending on the production phase. Most importantly, they determined that only one compressor would be necessary once they eliminated the leaks in the system and upgraded short-term storage capacity.

The project team formulated a three-stage plan. Their first step would be to increase storage capacity to accommodate peak demand; the second would be to fix the leaks, and the third to source a larger compressor and associated gear from a sister plant the parent company was phasing out. Viewed overall, this provided four specific goals.

  • Improve reliability with greater redundancy
  • Bring down system maintenance costs
  • Cut down plant energy consumption
  • Eliminate nitrogen as a fall-back resource

They reconfigured the equipment in terms of lowest practical maintenance cost, and moved the redundant compressors to stations where they could easily couple as back-ups. Then they implemented an online leak detection and repair program. Finally, they set the replacement compressor to 98 psi, after they determined this delivered the optimum balance between productivity and operating cost.

Since 2008, FUJIFILM has saved 1.2 million kilowatt hours of energy while virtually eliminating compressor system breakdowns. The single compressor is operating at relatively low pressure with attendant benefits to other equipment. It is worth noting that the key to the door was measuring compressed air flow at various points in the system.

ecoVaro specialises in analysing data like this on any energy type. 

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