Electrifying Industrial and Commercial Customers


Electrification 2020 Track C

Fortnightly Magazine - February 10 2020

There will be a track C of five sessions at Electrification 2020 on electrifying commercial and industrial customers. So, stop! In the name of EVs and before you believe electrification is only mobile and buildings. This track will enlighten you each time you walk down the street that electrification is everywhere, including the food industry, metallurgy, cement, big chemicals, ports, airport, maritime, agriculture, electric heating, water and wastewater, and so much more.

PUF: What is your role?

Perry Stephens: I'm a principal technical leader in our electrification program, called Electrification for Customer Productivity, where we conduct R&D about end-use electrification applications. These applications can include forklifts, forestry equipment, construction-type equipment, agriculture, food service, and more, plus the associated R&D around the energy requirements for residential and commercial building sectors, and the entire industrial sector.

There's a wide range of opportunities for R&D in our program, therefore we typically search for and identify market-ready R&D opportunities to bring electric technologies to bear on the normally energy-intense processes that would typically use fossil fuels. For example, right now we're looking at replacing fossil fuel-fired processes, whether it's a furnace in a home, a cooking process in a commercial kitchen, or an industrial process heating technology, like electric ladles or induction melting.

We also are continually scouting for new and emerging technologies that may be on the horizon.

Our role is to identify those technologies, then help our utility's end-use customers understand them, and assess their potential to be adopted into the various targeted sectors.

PUF: What will you and your colleagues be doing at the electrification conference? Are you involved in one of those tracks?

Perry Stephens: Yes. Our team is responsible for the industrial track and we are also conducting two pre-conference workshops. The industrial track has five sessions associated with it, spanning non-road equipment, primary materials industries, and discrete manufacturing industries. 

There's also a portion of the track focused on industries with huge natural gas and other thermal inputs to those processes. That includes industrial sub-sectors like petrochemicals, pulp and paper, and metals. 

Another session will focus on more discreet manufacturing, which touches on processes required to produce things like component parts, sub-assemblies, and finished goods, which are produced out of primary products. Discreet manufacturers produce many of the consumer products that we know of as traditional manufacturing, such as transportation equipment (cars, airplanes), consumer electronics, machinery, plastics, appliances, and so on. 

We also have a session on the food processing industry, and another on water systems and water treatment in both municipal and industrial systems.

PUF: What kinds of people should be coming to those sessions?

Perry Stephens: It's hard to think of a stakeholder group that wouldn't be interested in one or more of those sessions. Certainly, we want utilities who have either customer-facing roles, or responsibility for electrification programs within organizations, to attend. We would also like to see their end-use customers, as there are a lot of technology opportunities for them to consider.

For end-use electricity customers, it's typically the non-energy benefits of electrification, including increased productivity, or some enhanced operational performance characteristic, that makes these technologies attractive. The energy cost savings is the cherry on top.

Often, particularly in the industrial sector, and thus a theme of this industrial track, it's these non-energy benefits of productivity, product quality, throughput, uptime of equipment, that are important to manufacturing and production in industrial settings, that make these electric technologies shine. 

Plus, because electrified end-use applications can reduce workplace hazards such as open flames, exhaust gases, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, and other pollutants that are an issue when you're combusting fossil fuels, these applications contribute to a cleaner, safer, and improved work environment.

PUF: Tell me about more of your R&D in this area.

Perry Stephens: A big part of our R&D is working collaboratively with our members to help them understand how they can build a comprehensive electrification program over time by evaluating their portfolio of customers and identifying opportunities, costs, and benefits.

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In this effort, we work closely with other EPRI R&D programs and teammates involved with energy efficiency, customer technologies, electric transportation, and analysis programs, for example, to bring to bear a truly comprehensive portfolio of program actions that customers and utilities can take to realize the most benefit from potential electrification efforts.

We know a lot about what happens at a customer site, how electrified processes can bring about myriad benefits, and why.

PUF: You also mentioned that besides the track, there are some that you're involved in and there are a bunch of these workshops in the first two days or so. What are those like and who should go to those?

Perry Stephens: For the workshops, they're more technical and they're going to be more how-to, so these are more of instructor-led sessions. Generally, there will be four, roughly one-hour mini training courses within these two half-day workshops. One is focused on electric, non-road equipment and the other is focused on electric technology for process heating.

In those sessions we will have industry experts who are involved in the practical implementation of these technologies in the field, so these are people that have completed successful projects with this equipment. The end-use customers have realized the energy benefits as well as the non-energy savings.

They're also seeing the productivity and cost improvements that occur from the implementation of electric technologies, and they have case studies and examples with real financial results to show how their customers have effectively deployed these technologies.

An example of this is process heating. In the workshop, we'll review how electric technologies fit well with factory automation, factory 4.0 automation schemes, and how they're controllable within the intelligent factory. The technologies allow their owners to pursue lean production techniques, process scheduling, and process control techniques that you just can't do with big-batch type furnaces that are required when you use fossil fuels.

PUF: Who should go to the workshops?

Perry Stephens: We'd love to see end-use customers attend so they can hear about some of these technologies in action, talk to the people who are realizing the benefits today, and begin to think about how they might be able to use them to improve their processes and improve the performance of their plants.

We'd also like to see customer-facing utility staff who are always involved in trying to help their customers do better and compete. They need to come and learn about these technologies and how they work, so they can assist their ultimate customers in identifying those opportunities and help them however they can to adopt those technologies in their facilities.

In addition, we'd invite anyone who's interested in economic development, or jobs staying in their communities, and would like to better understand how they can support the businesses in their communities. 

PUF: What do you think you're after, to take away from this fantastic event?

Perry Stephens: The main thing our team would like to do is facilitate the discussions and the conversations among utilities, and their customers, and the vendors that make this equipment. We'd like to get that dialogue started, so that we can start to see them, make connections, and generate ideas for how they can improve their processes.

That's the number one goal for us. We'd like to see people begin to think about making deals around equipment, and getting an engineering study started, so they can begin to adopt some of these technologies into their businesses. We are very much a results-focused team, and nothing happens until a customer decides to put in new, highly efficient electric technology in their facilities, so that's a big focus of ours.

There are several sessions around emerging technologies and new things that are changing, so we'll be looking to see what vendors are displaying in technologies on our exhibition floor. We'll contact those folks, and continue to develop our understanding of those technologies, and how they might be effectively brought into our R&D programs. Maybe we can do a case study or a demonstration project with somebody based on some of these newer technologies.

Track C: Electrifying Industrial and Commercial Customers

Session C1: Electricity and the Food Industry

Food processing and foodservice electric technologies are integral to managing and dealing with waste streams (water, solid waste, and air emissions). Panelists will discuss electrification ties to food safety, evolving delivery methods, and sustainable, small footprint, productive technology solutions.

Session C2: Metallurgy, Cement, Chemicals: Big Industrial Electrification Opportunities

The production of primary materials (bulk chemicals, fuels, fertilizer, metals, plastics and rubber, fibers, cements, powders) is energy intensive and fossil fuel dependent. These industries contribute significantly to the global carbon footprint as well as other air quality and water consumption/quality issues. This panel will discuss emerging roadmaps within their industries to electrify these massive energy inputs as they drive toward future carbon neutrality.

Session C3: Customer Panel — Pioneers of Fleet Electrification

The energy and emissions from goods and people movement 'off' the public roads and highways are significant. This panel will explore how vehicle electrification in warehouses and logistics, refrigerated transport, construction & mining, maritime ports, airports and agriculture represent golden and often hidden opportunities to reduce emissions, lower costs, and improve health, safety, and productivity.

Session C4: Electric Heating at Scale

Industry 4.0 describes a fourth revolution in manufacturing, driven by connected devices, artificial intelligence and robotic automation. Electric heating technologies offer distinct advantages in the integration of process sensors, feedback and control that can greatly enhance process productivity, quality and reliability. Panelists for this session will explore the role of electric process technologies in delivering on the promise of "Industry 4.0."

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Session C5: Water Treatment: Plants and Processes

Water and waste water treatment systems eliminate biological and chemical hazards. The tie between production and use of water and energy resources drives application of advanced electric technologies for the efficient use and conservation of both. Panelists will explore their deployment and technical/economic challenges.


Conversations about Electrification 2020 Tracks: