Green Energy Mix for a Sustainable Future

#Sustainability #Biofuels #Energy #Biofuelcircle

Team Pro MFG

Here’s how manufacturers can optimise energy costs by going green and reducing your carbon footprint.

The Pune cluster focused Pro MFG Think Turf on Sustainable Manufacturing, powered by BiofuelCircle was the second such event in the ongoing series, hosted by ProMFG.. The panellists, Raj Jadhav, General Manager - Works, Tasty Bite Eatables; Vishwajit Singh, Plant Manager - Pune, Bridgestone and Tushar Lowalekar, Head - Operations and Alliances, BiofuelCircle shared their experiences on best practices of using Bioenergy.

All the right moves

a) Both manufacturing companies - Tasty Bite Eatables representing the F&B sector and Bridgestone the auto ancillary space - expressed witnessing a general trend towards mindfulness of carbon footprint. "We have two manufacturing units in India that altogether produce 9 million tyres per year. One of the big ticket items that we recently adopted was biomass for the boiler fuel," said Vishwajit Singh, Plant Manager - Pune, Bridgestone. The company also utilises digital automation and monitoring technology to make equipment more energy efficient.

Meanwhile, Raj Jadhav, General Manager - Works, Tasty Bite Eatables shared with the audience that the Tasty Bite Eatables manufacturing unit uses a combination of renewable energy and inhouse water treatment as part of their efforts in sustainable manufacturing. "About 25% of the power that we consume comes from renewable sources – Solar, Wind, and Biogas - Jadhav explained.

Sustainability is profitability

Alongside drastically reduced carbon footprint, the manufacturers also experienced cost savings, a true reward for their investment. Jadhav summarized an interesting experience that Tasty Bite Eatables had at the start of their sustainability journey over a decade ago. "In 1999-2000, Tasty Bite Eatables decided to switch to boilers that would run on biomass at a cost of about Rs 20 lakh, which was a sizable chunk of capital back then. We had estimated a payback period of about one and a half years, but the biomass boilers paid back their value to the company within five and a half months!"

Bridgestone has had a similarly positive dual-benefit experience with sustainability measures. "We are estimating the equivalent of 19,000 Tons of CO2 emission reduction per year, not to mention a cost benefit of approximate 16% less per unit since we opted for biomass energy as part of an Opex agreement with Thermax." Singh said. Additionally, Bridgestone has rooftop solar panels generating 6.7MW electricity for their manufacturing facilities. "These contribute to about 12% of our electricity," he added.

Both the panellists were extremely vocal in encouraging their counterparts in the audience to adopt similar measures. "The economics play out in favour of biofuel. A case in point: 1 litre of diesel and 3 Kgs of biofuel generate the same amount of steam, but one litre of diesel costs about Rs 90 whereas 3 Kgs of biofuel will cost about Rs 20."

Models that keep stakeholders and investors happy

According to Singh, some credit for getting Bridgestone's project off the ground is due to the operating model they have opted for. "Instead of trying to own the biomass project (and all the supply chain challenges that come with it) we chose to collaborate. The Opex model has been very crucial to the success story this far," he explained. Bridgestone wants to double its carbon emissions reduction from 25% less at present, to 50% less by 2030.

For Tasty Bite Eatables, after the first two sustainable boilers proved their mettle, it was easy to justify switching the third boiler too.

Viable solutions to challenges and obstacles

● Supply

According to Tushar Lowalekar, Head - Operations and Alliances, BiofuelCircle "The primary challenge is the availability of biomass and the reliability of the supply chain." He explained that this is because BiofuelCircle as a concept attempts to bridge the rural with the industrial. While the industrial side of this proposition is typically professional and organised and digital, the rural side is (understandably) significantly disorganised. According to Lowalekar, this is precisely the market gap that BiofuelCircle attempts to solve by offering the manufacturers a digital platform. "We attempt to develop a rich and wide ecosystem, so as to offer multiplicity of choice and sustained availability in abundance."

● Cost

The auction feature on the BiofuelCircle platform is something that can help better price discovery. This feature treats biofuel in the same way that any other commodity is treated in terms of its trading.

● By-products

Things got very interesting as manufacturers started to state specific challenges. "Quite a large quantity of ash is generated in our manufacturing process and we are always on the lookout for more environmentally friendly ways to dispose it." Lowalekar had an intriguing solution for this that he shared with his fellow panelist and the audience. "BiofuelCircle has some participants who craft bricks out of ash and apparently these ash bricks have greater structural strength than clay bricks and the cost of production is also low. One of the options therefore would be to cultivate a contact who can pick up the ash and convert it into bricks that can then be used by your own company or sold to the third party."

● Down time

Bridgestone meanwhile cited a different challenge. “92% of our fuel is green and while this is excellent, we want to reach the 100% green fuel milestone. However, we need to stop our green boilers for maintenance once a month, during which we operate our traditional boilers. A method that could enable our traditional boilers to use green energy, could allow us to save on that remaining 8%."

His counterpart on the panel, Jadhav, shared that at Tasty Bite Eatables units, twice yearly maintenance and rotation of boilers ensures that none are out of option on any single day.

However, Lowalekar explained that this particular challenge might need further brainstorming. "Some types of biofuel have scaling effects on the insides of equipment and this tends to necessitate cleaning and regular maintenance. However, by choosing fuels that leave a lower amount of scaling in their wake one can reduce the number of “shut down” days that manufacturers have to endure.