356489 How to Achieve Best Practice Energy Efficiency Performance for New Designs and Revamps in a Low Fuel Price Environment
In the last several years, growing natural gas production from shale plays has dramatically impacted the US natural gas market, both in volume and pricing. In the last ten years, US natural gas production has increased over 20%. In the last four years, prices have fallen from a high of $13/MMBtu to less than $4/MMBtu. Petrochemical plants have benefited from the energy cost reduction as well as lower feedstock prices. A number of Petrochemical companies are planning to take advantage of this by building new process facilities or revamping existing unit.
While the price of natural gas has decreased significantly over the last few years, the cost of designing and building new units has steadily increased. This means that the economic incentive for improving energy efficiency has reduced. However, many Petrochemical companies that are planning to build new facilities have corporate commitments to improve energy performance. These seemingly opposite drivers result in a quandary; how to increase energy performance when investing in energy conservation projects doesn’t appear economic.
Although today’s economic climate makes it increasingly difficult to justify energy efficiency improvements, typically it is still possible to design energy efficient process plants. A process plant can be considered a complex network of energy users and producers whose interactions can have a significant impact on the overall site wide performance. An energy efficient design takes into account these interactions to ensure that the proposed design does not cause imbalances within the site wide utility systems. Where revamps require significant upgrades to the site’s power and steam production facilities, these have to be considered with a comprehensive and detailed understanding of the sites current and future steam and power loads. At the process level, heat exchanger networks are designed effectively to ensure that future operating cost is optimized and at the equipment level, selection is based on economically justifiable technology.
This paper will use case studies to illustrate the impact of energy efficient designs on the site overall economics and will discuss the techniques and tools that are applied to ensure the optimal energy performance.