The accomplishment of Bertrand Piccard with his team to build an airplane exclusively operated with solar energy and capable of circumventing the earth in 2016 was possible thanks to energy efficiency.
The Swiss-born in Lausana describes the barriers he faced to fulfill his Project. When confronted with the fact that with the existing technology photovoltaic elements were not possible to be achieved, he decided to invest all his efforts in energy efficiency.
Airplane materials, its design – where he had the support of experts in competition sailboats – using until the last square centimeter to place photovoltaic cells and hundreds of more details, achieved having an airplane that will allow him to fly by day and, what is really important, continue at night with stored energy.
Today, two years after we see it as something achievable and it is difficult to be aware of the magnitude of what Piccard achieved.
When he tells his story he underlines that the most important thing for his project, the Solar Impulse, was a success due to energy efficiency.
The same happens in our industries. There are hundreds of opportunities to increase our energy efficiency, with the objective of decreasing costs, but also to minimize the carbon footprint.
Unfortunately, many times energy is seen as a fixed cost and not as a variable cost. Efforts are made but in general yield less due to the lack of advice and clear goals. The first thing is to settle an objective and from there seek the support to achieve it; I insist that having support results fundamental. For some reason, maybe because we are engineers, we think we can fulfill everything which is a mistake. The objective could be 15 % which is feasible in any industry in our country. Of course, once achieved a new goal has to be settled.
As the second step settling the objectives with a period of at least 18 months, less is very short to plan and measure. This last work is key: without measurement, there is no possibility of improvement.
The third step is to continuously communicate; that energy efficiency is in everybody’s head and that in their decisions they always question themselves, is there a way to do it with less energy consumption? When it turns into a habit it results natural to continue the virtuous circle.
Of course for this is needed for the support of the General Direction, but I doubt there is someone that says that they are not interested. Most of the times it comes from a communication problem and of risk decrease. You have to know how to present it and mitigate what can cause deviations from the objective.
Finally, approaching those in the sector to learn more and make suitable decisions in the aforementioned points. CONUEE, the National Commission for the Efficient Use of Energy; the FIDE and the AMENEER, the Mexican Association of Companies in Energy Efficiency resulted in great allies.
Let’s work for it!