Operations Illustrated: Alternative Energy Sources
If an alternative energy source has the potential to create more energy than a company needs, such as the solar panels pictured here, there is the option to remain connected to the grid, feeding back into it when surplus energy is created. Other times, if the alternative source cannot create enough energy to meet demand at the site, the company can still draw from the grid.
Many companies are exploring the use of biodiesel in their vehicles and rolling stock. Biodiesel is a renewable fuel that can be used in the place of petroleum diesel. Engine modifications are typically not needed, depending on the type of biodiesel, allowing companies the option to use biodiesel when it is economically beneficial. In addition to its renewable benefits, biodiesel also reduces emissions of greenhouse gases when compared to petroleum diesel.
It takes teamwork and buy-in from all levels of a company to commit to improved energy efficiency. Having an energy management team allows a company to focus on achieving goals. Regular meetings, teleconferences, and energy seminars with employees help to bring everyone onto the same page. Onsite visits with employees can be energy treasure hunts, versus energy audits, often bringing new energy-saving opportunities to light.
Equipment add-ons such as variable frequency drives adjust the speed and torque of engines by changing the frequency applied to them, saving energy. A heat recapture module on an asphalt plant can capture and reuse heat exhaust, applying it toward drying of aggregate and heating the binder, reducing energy needs. Alternative biofuels can replace the traditional diesel used in ANFO for blasting, reducing hydrocarbon production and petroleum diesel needs.
Sustainability measures are worth the effort in terms of being better neighbors and responsible citizens. Alternative energy sources can significantly lower a company’s carbon footprint by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Alternative energy, as a general rule, is renewable. And what’s more, its use can be profitable — in terms of lower energy consumption, less need for petroleum oil, more efficient equipment, and lower trucking expenses.
Steve Coppinger is the director of engineering services for CalPortland Co. based in Glendora, Calif. He created CalPortland’s energy management program in 2003 and has managed it ever since. Coppinger has been with the company for 26 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa. He also is a graduate of UCLA’s Executive Management Program and is a licensed professional engineer in the State of California.
Bill Williams is the general manager of Santa Rosa, Calif.-based BoDean Co. Prior to joining the company in 2002, Williams worked in the healthcare and financial industries. Between the years of 1988 and 1996, he taught junior high social science. Williams has a bachelor’s degree in education, with an emphasis in history, from Concordia University in Seward, Neb.
VOICES OF EXPERIENCE
It’s the philosophy at Santa Rosa, Calif.-based BoDean Co. that we all share a common social obligation to be good stewards of our natural resources and use business practices built around sustainability. For that reason, six years ago, the company chose to invest in new technologies and practices allowing it to use renewable resources. This has led to a reduction in energy consumption and BoDean’s overall carbon footprint.
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