Armando Landa

Smaller Enterprises, an Opportunity for Energy Management

Wed, 02/22/2017 - 15:33

It is not a secret that investing in energy efficiency is the best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by lowering electricity and fuel consumption, particularly in countries like Mexico, with an electric grid heavily reliant on fossil fuels. Improving the country’s efficiency levels becomes even more pressing when considering that electricity demand is projected to increase by an average of 3.7 percent yearly at least until 2030, as per the latest PRODESEN 2016-2030 figures.

Although most of the electricity demand will come from the industrial and transportation sectors, SMEs represent an interesting opportunity to improve electricity usage. The Ministry of Energy has pegged growth in electricity consumption in this segment at an annual 2.8 percent rate for the past decade.

Armando Landa, CEO of Enerwise, which provides certified monitoring products for reducing energy and water consumption, says its solutions focus mostly on SMEs. He believes these companies can benefit the most from them. “Large companies are often aware of the importance of incorporating energy efficiency into their processes and some even have special divisions dedicated to this. SMEs, on the other hand, tend to lack engineering departments dedicated to energy management,” he says.

Three of the main barriers to implementing energy efficient solutions in SMEs are the lack of awareness about efficient technologies, the gap in knowledge about monitoring and energy prices. “In Mexico, the culture of energy efficiency is not widely spread mainly because energy prices are not high enough to incentivize companies to invest in this area,” Landa says. Low natural gas prices and the power subsidies that remain in certain segments are only exacerbating the situation.

“There is a lack of awareness about the benefits that energy efficiency investments can bring for companies and all these factors are contributing to the businessas-usual tendency that we have identified,” he adds. For that reason, Enerwise places a strong focus on education, spreading the word about the importance of accurate measurements in energy-efficiency practices and the savings those can bring to a business. “We urge company leaders to foster their employees’ knowledge about the importance of being efficient and the factors that affect energy and water usage in their processes,” Landa says.

Most Mexican companies are aware of the amount of gas, electricity and water they are using because these are shown in their monthly bills. But most SMEs are unaware of the exact kilowatt-hours of electricity, liters of water or cubic feet of gas needed per unit of product or production line. The lack of accurate measurements makes it harder to introduce efficiency solutions because measuring is the first step for reducing consumption. “Around 20 percent of the information gathered by the industries is inaccurate, which results in misleading information regarding the energy-related costs of a process. Accurate metrics are extremely relevant for energy efficiency,” Landa says.

The key to solving this challenge is not to have more regulations but to make sure all relevant players are familiar with those that are in place, he says. “There is a wide range of norms and regulations looking to improve energy usage in the country. However, not all companies are aware of their existence or of the importance of following the guidelines. Even in the public sector there is a knowledge gap regarding the factors that affect energy efficiency and the critical role that accurate data plays. These are the reasons why we see a limited number of programs to promote energy efficiency with a focus on adequate measuring.”

Communication campaigns and monitoring technologies are essential to achieve real results in improving SMEs’ efficiency levels, which is why Enerwise has placed both at the core of its business in Mexico. “Companies do not want to change the way they produce or do business because they do not know a better alternative. Enerwise can help them improve by providing training and equipment for accurate measurement,” Landa says.