Worldwide energy consumption is expected to grow by 53pc between now and 2035, according to the International Energy Outlook 2010.
Against that backdrop, in Ireland a new energy management standard launched today by the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) at a joint conference with Engineers Ireland is being hailed as one of the most significant global developments in energy management in recent years.
The new standard, ISO 50001, could influence up to 60pc of the world’s energy use, claimed the NSAI today.
Speaking today at the conference, Ireland’s Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte, TD, said: "At a time of rising energy prices and increasing energy security concerns, the case for organisations to manage their energy performance is clear cut.
"Standards drive change and the addition of ISO 50001 to the growing suite of standards specifically designed to help organisations reduce their energy consumption, greenhouse gases and energy bills is very welcome. Energy efficiency plays a key role in meeting our sustainable energy targets and we will seek to maximise the business and market development opportunities for Ireland through the adoption of ISO 50001."
ISO 50001 was launched to coincide with World Standards Day, which celebrates the development of International Standards that facilitate trade, spread knowledge and disseminate technological advances.
Energy standard targeted at businesses of all sizes
ISO 50001 Energy Management Systems-Requirements with guidance for use is a voluntary, internationally accepted framework for the management of energy for businesses of all sizes, said the NSAI today. It will provide organisations, both private and public, with management strategies to increase energy efficiency, reduce costs and improve energy performance, added the authority.
Energy – from a technical issue to a management one
Speaking at the conference this morning, Maurice Buckley, CEO, NSAI, said: "Individual organisations cannot control energy prices but they can improve the way they manage energy in the here and now. A large number of Irish companies are already saving millions of euro each year through the use of energy management standards.
“Energy is no longer a ‘technical’ issue but a management issue which impacts on the bottom line, but there are still numerous organisations that continue to waste energy through lax processes and insufficient management systems," explained Buckley.
He said these organisations are also wasting money, in addition to causing "avoidable pollution, primarily through increased carbon emissions".
“I believe that every organisation has a responsibility to manage its energy use and the time to address the issue is now."
The EU, as part of its 2020 targets, has set the goal of saving at least 1pc of energy per year and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20pc by the end of this decade.
Energy-efficiency goals for 2020 – Ireland
Ireland’s Energy Policy Framework 2007–2020 set a national goal of 20pc energy-efficiency savings across all sectors by 2020, with a 33pc target for the public sector.
In 2005, the NSAI developed an Irish energy management standard (I.S. 393) in co-operation with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). That standard was adopted for use as a European standard (EN 16001) across the EU-27, as well as Iceland, Switzerland and Norway.
Speaking today, Prof Owen Lewis, CEO, SEAI, said: "Ireland has the highest take-up in the world for energy management standard usage, with over 50pc of large, Irish-based companies participating in their application. These companies have achieved energy savings of €100m since adopting structured energy management approaches.
"As ISO 50001 rolls out, we have a real opportunity to market our expertise internationally, as countries look to Ireland to learn more about our experiences and services. This global standard is the future of energy management and a welcome addition to a growing suite of standards in energy management for Irish organisations."
Case study: EMC achieves 19pc reduction in energy use at two Irish sites
Michael Hennessy, facilities manager in EMC, a market leader in cloud computing that employs 2,500 people in Ireland and 50,000 worldwide, said efficiency measures have achieved a 19pc reduction in energy use across two sites in Ovens and Ballincollig in Cork.
"We take energy efficiency very seriously across our two sites in Cork that cover 600,000 sq feet combined. We implemented the energy standard IS 393 in 2008, transitioned to EN 16001 in 2010, and we are now looking at ISO 50001. These moves have achieved a 19pc reduction in energy use at the sites, saving over 20 GWhs over the past four years and €1.5m. Through innovative products and services, EMC is accelerating the journey to cloud computing, helping IT departments to store, manage, protect and analyse their most valuable asset – information – in a more agile, trusted and cost-efficient way," added Hennessy.
Speaking at the conference, John Power, director-general, Engineers Ireland, concluded with how the business community in Ireland needs to collectively embrace new developments in energy-management systems.
“The primary purpose of this conference is to draw attention to the critical nature of energy management in Ireland. Energy cost is not simply an overhead beyond an organisation’s control. Energy consumption can seriously affect an organisation’s position in the competitive marketplace. It is vital that Ireland’s industrial and business community embrace any new developments in energy management systems to enable them to effectively control their entire energy use and cost," he said.