A software to use less energy

The energy with the least impact is the energy you don't use. This maxim neatly sums up the whole idea of energy efficiency, which is to make industrial, commercial and personal activities less energy intensive. Total has set long-term objectives to support this ambition, spearheaded, among others, by R&D.

In its report entitled Energy Efficiency: A Straight Path Towards Energy Sustainability, the World Energy Council[1] lists the numerous ways to make energy production and use more efficient and thereby lower the carbon intensity of all industrialized countries. We need to initiate or step up measures to curb the consumption of energy by being smarter about how we use it.

In the race to become more energy efficient, energy companies have an even more critical role to play. On the one hand, they are responsible for the energy used (and emissions produced) by their own facilities when they import, produce, transport and transform primary energy. On the other, most of the carbon footprint left by their products is created when customers use the final energy[2] these products deliver.

How Energy Balance Consolidation (CBE) at the Total Normandy Site Enhanced Energy Efficiency

An energy efficiency gain of 1% a year

In choosing to use the International Energy Agency's 2°C Scenario as a framework for growth, Total has also treated energy efficiency as a driver of better operational performance. That's why the Group has set goals for its own industrial facilities and for its customers, via the Ecosolutions program.

Total is doing what it takes to boost energy efficiency by an average 1 percent a year at its facilities between 2010 and 2020, a figure to be compared to the 13 million toe[3] of energy used annually in its reporting scope. Energy costs account for almost 50 percent of the operating costs at Total's refineries and petrochemical plants.

Smart metering to cut down on energy use

In 2011, the Total Normandy refining and petrochemical complex, which processes 11 million tons of crude oil annually, decided to focus on smart metering by supporting the emergence of specific tools to monitor energy flows. The solution retained, known by its French acronym CBE (for Energy Balance Consolidation), was developed as part of the ADEME/Total Energy Efficiency Program launched in 2008. Perfected and marketed by Proesis, a Total small business partner, CBE automatically manages almost a thousand measurements per hour at the site each day, making it possible to track the distribution of all types of flows in a tree structure.

Thierry Schuhler, head of Total's cross-functional Energy Efficiency R&D program, notes that "The solutions available to manage material flows didn't work well for energy flow management. We had CBE developed based on our own specifications." Every day, the software logs and analyzes the energy used the day before and helps front-line operators optimize operating conditions. For example, readjusting energy flows can balance the different pressure levels in the facility's steam network more effectively, thereby allowing steam vents to stay closed and saving what would otherwise be wasted energy. This kind of smart metering has cut energy waste by 10 percent in the last 10 years. Mission accomplished.

Multiple Returns on Investment

"Whenever we reduce the energy needed to perform a task, we reduce its cost," says Thierry Schuhler. "The savings come to 1.7 million euros each year, or a 2.5 percent reduction in steam costs." That's equivalent to the power use of 11,000 French households. Though the savings are significant, they're spread out over time, while investments are up-front. This time lag between the outlay and the resulting benefit can sometimes make it hard to justify energy efficiency investments. "You also have to factor in the environmental benefits, such as a smaller carbon footprint and the collateral benefits in terms of competitiveness that the improvement provides," he adds.

For this reason, Total's R&D continues to develop incremental solutions that upgrade existing systems, as well as more disruptive solutions. These are intended for both new and existing facilities, which are remodeled during turnarounds. "Our R&D must be able to make recommendations for the medium and long term. It's our job to scout the horizon," says Thierry Schuhler.

Similar projects are being deployed at Total's Donges and Grandpuits refineries. "We are continuing to develop our energy efficiency culture," the program manager says in conclusion.

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3 fun facts about energy efficiency
*in 2016
Source: Energy Efficiency 2017/IEA

[1] The World Energy Council is the principal impartial network of leaders and practitioners promoting an affordable, stable and environmentally sensitive energy system for the greatest benefit of all.

[2] Primary energy refers to the various energy sources available in nature prior to transformation. Final energy means the energy delivered to end consumers, be they businesses or private individuals, to meet their needs.

[3] Tons of oil equivalent.

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