Energy Data and Sustainability in Indian Industry
Digitization of energy data has transformed how industries consume and monitor energy. The transition from tedious and error-prone manual energy data logging practices to real-time energy monitoring systems has the potential to unlock value not only in energy efficiency but also emerge as the backbone of corporate sustainability and ESG metrics.
Bad Information begets Bad Metrics
Metrics are an abstraction of their underlying data or more simply put, bad information begets bad metrics. If the data collection and processing practices within the industry are inaccurate then the metrics and insights extracted from data will only amplify the inaccuracy. Within an industrial context, if the operators are manually logging data into their log books which will then be manually entered into the excel sheets, then there are multiple points of human error. Statistically speaking, there is a 4% error rate in data entry even with professional operators, the error rate of two-stage manual data entry by untrained operators is bound to be significantly higher. Moreover, this logging frequency is limited 2-4 times per day per sensor (i.e beginning and end of operator shifts), this ‘low-resolution energy data’ limits the insights and actions that can be taken.
An Energy Monitoring System (EMS) can not only collect data from the connected meters and instruments accurately, it can also do so at a frequency as high as every second. Even though in most cases 5-10 minute data logging frequency is sufficient for most energy efficiency and predictive maintenance projects. The data from the same EMS system when analyzed at longer intervals (like monthly or quarterly) can automatically feed into the data required to calculate ESG and sustainability metrics. An EMS with an in-built capacity for Monitoring and Verification (M&V) can not only inform ESG metrics like GRI 302 it can also track improvement projects under ISO50001.
The price of light is less than the cost of darkness. - Arthur C. Nielsen
“The lack of awareness stems from wilful or unwitting ignorance of energy consumption across industrial processes”, said. Dr. Arunabha Ghosh from CEEW in an article for the Financial Express. He also highlighted that ” Enterprises tend to only look at monthly energy bills and overall energy consumption without correlating the data with specific equipment efficiency or energy intensity of output. They often have no monitoring tools or energy-efficiency practices, nor any data on performance benchmarks of EETs used for different industrial processes in each sector.”
This ignorance is short-sighted for two reasons; first, compliance in industrial emissions and energy is already becoming more data-driven so it is not a question of if EMS will become a necessity but when. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) mandates automatic reporting systems to track boiler stack emissions and effluent treatment plants (ETPs) and the facilities already pay electricity and diesel bills. So the data is eventually going to be collected. Second, the cost of not having deep insight into your energy costs which represent 30-45% of operating costs is a missed opportunity loaded with cost-saving and sustainability enhancing potential. The price of light is really not as high as it seems. Moreover, according to Hemant Mallya from CEEW,” Precisely measuring energy consumption increases the odds of investment in EETs (Energy Efficient Technologies) nearly six-fold.” This cost of darkness may be hard to see in the short term but there is no doubt that it will be a competitive disadvantage in the long term.
SEBI: ESG Reporting Norms and Mandate
On the 10th of May 2021, The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) issued a circular notifying new disclosure norms on sustainability related reporting for the top 1,000 listed companies by market cap by FY23. These disclosures could be made using the following reporting standards GRI, SASB, TCFD, or Integrated Reporting. While these disclosures are voluntary for 1,000 listed companies for FY 2021-22, they will become mandatory from FY 2022-23.
As the top 1,000 listed companies prepare for these ESG disclosures, they must build a comprehensive data collection and processing system before these disclosures become mandatory. A facility-wide Energy Monitoring System that can unlock energy efficiency and provide data for ESG metrics like GRI 302 is a key step in that direction. The utility of this energy data has grown far beyond accounting for operating expenses, it is now the foundation for the sustainability projects the industry must monitor, the interest rate at which it can raise debt to fund green capital investments , and the ESG metrics it must improve to bolster its share price.