Originally hailing from the UK, where his parents also worked with Shell, Duncan Cairnie is Shell Energy’s in-house expert on gas efficiency. We sat down with Duncan to discuss what gas efficiency is, why it’s so important to helping Australian businesses lower their carbon emissions and reduce their gas spend, and why he’s so proud to put on his Shell Energy personal protective equipment (PPE) every day.
I work as the Gas Solutions Manager as part of the Energy Solutions team at Shell Energy. Many industrial businesses use gas in their facilities as a major energy source and are looking for ways to reduce their gas consumption, both to achieve cost savings and to reduce CO2 emissions.
My role is to help clients identify how their business could use gas more efficiently through developing a deep understanding of their specific requirements and processes and proposing solutions to help them unlock cost savings. In practice, this entails close engagement with our customers, detailed site visits, reviewing site data from an engineering perspective, testing performance of existing appliances and continually reviewing and suggesting changes to improve processes for gas efficiency. I’m also responsible for the gas efficiency project process from the development of proposals through to detailed engineering design, both mechanical and electrical, and then on to project implementation and optimisation.
Historically, many industrial processes have depended on gas as an energy source. Despite the drive towards alternative energy sources, these are either not yet available or viable to apply to all processes. As a result, gas efficiency measures are important to help businesses reduce their gas spend and minimise their energy wastage.
Gas efficiency is effectively reducing the volume of gas consumed per unit of product during industrial processes. This can be completed through process improvements with customers’ existing infrastructure, such as tuning and re-commissioning of installed gas appliances. It can also be completed through assessing site processes to determine when equipment is not required or can be run at a reduced operating setpoint to reduce gas consumption. Customers can also improve gas efficiency by improving combustion performance and identifying heat recovery opportunities.
Further to this, there are many sites where a secondary fuel source may be available – such as biogas, for example – which could directly replace some of the natural gas requirements currently used in their processes. Considering alternative fuel sources, and even electrification of gas processes, can also help customers unlock potential gas savings.
Historically, gas prices in Australia have been low so there was less of a focus on gas efficiency. However, with recent increases in gas prices, investments in projects to improve gas efficiency have become more attractive and can offer strong returns on investment.
There are also a number of government grants, both federal and state, that are available for improvements in gas usage, as well as the potential for environmental certificates to be created based directly on a reduction in gas usage or carbon emissions. These funding opportunities give our customers the opportunity to both achieve their business goals through lowering carbon emissions and unlock ongoing value by reducing gas costs.
Shell Energy has approached gas efficiency from multiple angles across a variety of projects, always with our customers’ needs at the forefront of the conversation. Our breadth of knowledge and capabilities within the extended team allows us to review and complete site processes and deliver on multiple fronts, providing our customers with bespoke solutions to their needs
We place an emphasis on building strong and collaborative relationships between our customers, the gas retail side of the business and our engineering, projects and sales teams. This collaboration between the retail supply and energy solutions arms of the business mean that we have, on occasion, been able to offer alternative solutions to the traditional capital expenditure (CapEx) funding model, whether through an operational expenditure (OpEx) model or discounted project costs that benefit from environmental certificates. This has allowed customers to proceed with gas efficiency opportunities and yield results faster.
To learn whether your business could have an opportunity for a gas efficiency project, or to learn more about gas efficiency in the context of your business, click here to get in touch with Duncan and our expert energy solutions team.
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