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Sustainable Industrial Heating and Cooling – A Critical Problem Close to Having Working Solutions


Most discussions and news when it comes to renewable energy is about renewable power – from solar, wind, biomass etc. Some of these, solar especially, could indeed reach a tipping point in terms of adoption worldwide.

But there is an elephant in the room that few notice.

There is another domain where I can see a tipping point in the context of sustainable energy use. I can see an inflexion point not far away for the use of sustainable sources for heating and cooling applications as well.

Just consider how the prices of diesel and fuel oil (furnace oil) have increased in the last 10 years.

  • Diesel price in Jan 2004 – Rs 22 per litre – Diesel price in Jan 2014 – Rs 60 per litre
  • Furnace oil price in Jan 2004 – Rs 10 per litre – Furnace oil price in Jan 2014 – Rs 40 per liter

The simple data comparison alone is enough to show how significantly critical heating and power generation fuels for the Indian industrial sector has gone out of control.

In the last 10 years, price of diesel has increased by almost 200% and that of furnace oil, a phenomenal 300%.

EAI’s Consulting Division provides special assistance for companies, especially in the manufacturing sector, interested in implementing sustainable heating and cooling solutions. See here for more.

For the manufacturing sector, this is a serious concern as the cost of energy forms a significant portion of their total expenses.

Added to this economic imperative is the environment imperative. It is indeed true that the environment will not  be exactly an imperative for most companies if the decision is left to themselves. But it is becoming clear that both the government/regulators and the customers are demanding that companies be more sustainable in their operations. Of the two (government and customers), it is the government whose mandates and strictures in this regard would make environmental sustainability an imperative for Indian companies.

Add all these, and what do you see?

I see Indian corporates desperately looking for greener heating/cooling energy sources that are sustainable both economically and environmentally.

Fortunately, these aspirations can today be met, if not 100%, at least to a significant extent. With the emergence of a number of innovative products and solutions for driving efficiency in industrial heating and cooling, Indian companies have the opportunity to achieve significant savings in heating and cooling energy costs, while at the same time evolving into a green and sustainable enterprise.

Sustainable Heating/Cooling – Highlights

  • Use of sustainable heating and cooling technologies and processes could result in savings as high as 40%
  • Many of these sustainability solutions have payback periods as low as 2.5 years
  • Innovations in solar thermal, waste heat usage, cogeneration/CHP, biomass heat/power, VAM based air-conditioning/refrigeration offer multiple, viable solutions
  • Many solutions exist for implementing sustainable cooling/heating – waste heat utilization for heating/refrigeration/air-conditioning, cogeneration of heat and power, optimizing heating/cooling devices for energy efficient, energy monitoring systems and more
  • A number of reputed Indian companies are providing innovative solutions in this area

The main sources / avenues that factories & facilities can use for sustainable heating are:

  • Use of biomass gasification for heating
  • Solar thermal
    • Low temperature heating as in solar water heating
    • Medium temperature heating with concentrating solar thermal
  • Waste heat recovery
  • Energy efficiency by shifting to higher efficiency equipments, machineries and technologies

Each of the above presents significant potential. While all of them many not work for all the companies, even a subset (say two of the four), if implemented, could result in substantial energy and cost savings for the company.

I am excited about this area because if the sustainable solutions are implemented, we could be looking at a significantly different energy usage landscape in 5 years from now.

Here’s a post from EAI that looks at each of the above sustainable heating options mentioned above in greater detail.

To help Indian companies, especially in the manufacturing sector implement sustainable heating/cooling solutions, at EAI, we have included this in our specialty consulting division. To know more about how EAI can assist companies adopt sustainable heating and cooling solutions, see this page.

Also check out: Sustainability Edge – EAI Consulting to assist corporates design, evaluate and align sustainability strategies


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Narasimhan Santhanam

Thank you for reading this post – hope it was helpful. You can connect with me at narsi@solarmango.com . My detailed profile here and my LinkedIn profile here

Posted in: Combined Heat and Power, Corporate Sustainability, Waste Heat Recovery

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