1660318233997 Factorysmokestackenergy

Energy planning for success, not failure!

Nov. 11, 2020
When building your working team, Peter Garforth says be sure to keep all stakeholders aligned on both goals and the data.

Many corporate energy and sustainability managers are being confronted with a “new normal.” They are being challenged to be the major contributor to meeting their companies’ goals to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, usually within a decade or two. Creating a credible 10- to 20-year energy and climate master plan that realistically charts a profitable pathway to net-zero is no small feat.

About the Author: Peter Garforth

A robust plan will be based on simulating many combinations of market assumptions, efficiency, internal and external supply and distribution of energy, integrated energy management architecture and processes, and employee travel patterns. While creating these simulations is a complex analytical process, it is arguably the easiest part of achieving the goal of the profitable elimination of the company’s impact on climate change.

The greater challenge is to ensure there is a deep and sustained alignment between all the players that can influence ultimate success. They must be aligned around the contents of the plan itself, be aligned with the pathway chosen, and be partners in effective implementation for decades.

This alignment must begin with a shared view of the data, assumptions, and analyses that come together to create various simulations. Each of these simulations will have differing outcomes, technical solutions, and varying degrees of risk. Whichever is ultimately proposed and approved, there must be a high-level of support by all those who will have to pull together to make it happen.

The first step on the pathway to success will be the make-up of the working team that will create and propose the energy and climate master plan. The membership should be representative of three major influences. The first group will be those entities or individuals that are key to the success of any plan. The second will be those that can positively accelerate successful implementation. The third will bring expertise from around the world that will be essential to create credible scenarios.

Agreeing on the team structure itself should be aligned between the energy and sustainability manager and the ultimate owners of the net-zero goal. At a minimum this would be the CEO, and probably should include the company’s board or owners. This step is key to ensuring that the level of team participation is sufficiently senior to enable a smooth transition from planning to implementation.

From within the company itself, the team will typically include government relations, employees, finance, legal, business development, marketing, communications, procurement, manufacturing, logistics, energy, and sustainability. External membership will be more complex, depending both on the nature of the company’s business and the location and nature of its global operations. It could possibly include major sub-suppliers, utilities, strategic investors, national and local government, commercial and public transportation providers, unions, customer associations, and environmental organizations.

It may include neighbors with significant operations where shared benefits or negative impacts may be possible. The last grouping will represent the necessary expertise to ensure this plan has access to a wide range of experience and expertise to support the team’s deliberations to create simulations and assess risks.

In selecting who would be on the team, the leadership must keep in mind a net-zero plan is by its nature deeply transformational. This transformation will reach into all aspects of the company’s operations and relationships. Engagement with customers, partners, employees, and community will be very different going forward.

As the team membership is confirmed, there should be a clear understanding that they will be supportive of the plan they will develop and recommend. Following its approval their ongoing support will be critical to move from a plan to a transformative reality.

Achieving alignment starts at the beginning of the energy and climate planning process. Building this net-zero work team will take time and creativity to build the collective commitment to act. Alone it will not guarantee a successful outcome, but not doing so will almost certainly guarantee failure.

Energy Expert

This article is part of our monthly Energy Expert column. Read more from Peter Garforth.

Sponsored Recommendations

Arc Flash Prevention: What You Need to Know

March 28, 2024
Download to learn: how an arc flash forms and common causes, safety recommendations to help prevent arc flash exposure (including the use of lockout tagout and energy isolating...

Reduce engineering time by 50%

March 28, 2024
Learn how smart value chain applications are made possible by moving from manually-intensive CAD-based drafting packages to modern CAE software.

Filter Monitoring with Rittal's Blue e Air Conditioner

March 28, 2024
Steve Sullivan, Training Supervisor for Rittal North America, provides an overview of the filter monitoring capabilities of the Blue e line of industrial air conditioners.

Limitations of MERV Ratings for Dust Collector Filters

Feb. 23, 2024
It can be complicated and confusing to select the safest and most efficient dust collector filters for your facility. For the HVAC industry, MERV ratings are king. But MERV ratings...