Drives & Controls Magazine September 2023

The rise of the modern energy manager 32 n ENERGY EFFICIENCY September 2023 The emergence of the carbon manager Martin Richardson Water Framework Manager, ABB WHEN WE TALK ABOUT energy managers we also have to consider them as carbon managers – both energy and carbon are now completely intertwined. Upstream, businesses have a social responsibility to be more conscious of their environmental impact, while downstream consumers like to know that what they’re buying is not doing harm. In this sense, a company’s approach to energy becomes a key differentiator – if your competition has better sustainability credentials, it will set them apart. Twenty years ago the role of energy manager may have been an add-on role for a maintenance or process engineer; now it is very much a specialist role – and rightly so. The modern energy manager must be well acquainted with increasingly complex and ever-changing regulations and schemes, and also be across evolving priorities and targets that need regular attention and revision. Against this backdrop, they must also manage both day-to-day and strategic energy and carbon usage across the business, taking into account costs and forecasts against KPIs. Their scope of responsibilities is rapidly growing, requiring them to find incremental gains across the whole plant, without losing sight of the big picture. I’ve met energy managers who have no idea what a variable-speed drive is, and that’s actually fine because it’s their technicians who are going out and making the changes needed. A good energy manager should know how to get their hands dirty, or at least have a team of technicians who can do it for them. It’s all well and good having graphs and dashboards, but someone has to make the changes required physically to actually save or reduce energy consumption. The water industry has been getting much better at this in recent years. I also think that energy managers need to be given more latitude to get things done and have the freedom to circumvent the barriers that can get in the way of meaningful change. In the water sector, energy is one of the largest operational costs. Too often people are reluctant to make changes because they are put off by the investments required or lack familiarity with new technologies. The energy manager needs to wield the biggest stick in terms of responsibility for driving change, and they The role of the energy manager has changed dramatically in recent years. Businesses can no longer ignore the need to be more energy- and carbon-conscious, while energy price volatility has focussed minds on the need to set and meet sustainability targets. A new generation of engineers is bringing forward fresh ideas and shifting attitudes to industry, forcing the dial to shift on climate action. Three experts from ABB weigh in on how the landscape is changing.