Despite the increasing competition in the crowded job market of today, there is plenty to explore and exploit with respect to job opportunities, provided you are up for unconventional and offbeat roles like that of an Energy Auditor. An emerging role, the need for Energy Auditors has gained noticeable prominence in the recent years, particularly due to growing concerns around global warming and climate change and a concerted focus from the international fraternity on environmental sustainability in the form of reduced greenhouse emissions and energy conservation.
If you are an upcoming Mechanical Engineer who is desirous of aligning himself or herself to niche career trajectories that complement your mechanical engineering discipline, then a foray into the realm of energy auditing can be a wise career move for you.
So, what exactly is the scope of an Energy Auditor? Read on to know more about this evolving job role that is fast becoming an integral function of many industries.
Energy Audit - A Field That Is No Longer a ‘Good to Have’
An energy audit is a systematic approach of undertaking a detailed inspection and analysis of the energy flows within a building, process or a system in order to identify the various sources of energy consumption within the existing set-up. It is the first step towards establishing an effective in-house energy management framework and entails the ascertaining of the quantum of energy that is being utilized by different sources and to discern ways to curb excessive energy use without hindering the quality of output.
Apart from its obvious objectives of energy savings and cost containment, the process also focuses on environmental safety and sustainability. Other than the standard visual verifications, it is also common to harness advanced computer-based simulation tools to evaluate and analyse the energy consumption levels that have been recorded during the benchmarking phase of the survey.
While the scope of energy audit is not limited to industrial units alone, yet it is increasingly becoming non-negotiable in various energy-intensive sectors that boast the presence of ‘Designated Consumers’ that have been classified such on the basis of their high energy consumption levels that far exceed the agreeable thresholds and are much higher than the observed one in households or residential areas. All Designated Consumers and energy-intensive sectors like iron & steel, fertilizers, aluminium, cement, textile, pulp and paper, railways, electricity distribution companies etc. are subject to the energy efficiency and energy conservation regulations of the Energy Conservation Act (ECA) that was enacted in 2001 and further amended in 2010.
Under the ECA, the Government of India has made it mandatory for all Designated Consumers to regularly monitor and report their energy consumption statistics along with their planned or implemented energy efficiency improvement techniques, Additionally, they are also required to host and participate in periodic energy audits that are facilitated by accredited Energy Auditors. It is also the accountability of these industries and large consumers to appoint Energy Managers whose primary job is to ensure fair and optimal usage of energy. In the event that these industrial units and commercial establishments are unable to deploy an efficient energy management system within their facilities, then they may be subject to heavy fines and other penalties. Hence, it goes without saying that energy audit is no longer a ‘good to have’ activity but is now a ‘must-have’ deliverable for many firms and industries.
Role of Energy Auditors
As an Energy Auditor, you will find yourself undertaking a quick walk-through of a production plant or a facility with an aim to accomplish most or all of the below objectives:
- Study the energy consumption of the building along with an in-depth analysis of its installed equipment and utility costs
- Take a stock of the building’s ‘as-is’ energy use and benchmark it against the performance of other similar buildings
- identify major areas of energy waste and causes of excessive operating costs
- Suggest low-cost and quick fixes, if any, to improve the energy efficiency of the facility
- Drive lasting energy-efficient behaviour within an establishment by proposing energy awareness training programs for the staff members and the employees
- Explore and evaluate alternate energy conservation measures. Assess their technical & financial feasibility as well as their energy saving potential and their impact on the environment, on the production & quality of the output and on the financial goals of the investors
- Submit a comprehensive audit report outlining the suggested recommendations along with their cost benefit analysis and their implementation roadmap
How Can a Career Path in Energy Auditing Benefit a Mechanical Engineer?
The increasing awareness about fossil fuels being non-renewable in nature and the fact that energy continues to feature in the list of the top three operating expenses for any industry, have collectively given renewed impetus to the importance of managing energy efficiently. There is now a heightened interest within the global fraternity to invest in energy management professionals such as Energy Auditors who have the necessary skill and competency to detect energy misuse and suggest cost-effective remediation strategies, including but not limited to suggestions to switch from non-renewable to renewable energy sources.
As the energy sector continues to grow with more and more private companies venturing into this space, the need for certified Energy Auditors will also continue to amplify in both energy sectors like oil & gas, renewable energy and power transmission & distribution firms and in non-energy sectors that are in perpetual want of certified energy management consultants. As mentioned by Yagya Ahuja, CEO of Global Energy Talent, a leading energy talent management firm, “Fresh graduates can look at a number of other roles, such as oil and gas traders for financial companies, and in industries like airlines and utilities, or as carbon credits traders, in designing, implementation, and management of energy management systems.” He further adds, “About 60 per cent of world energy needs are satisfied by the oil and gas sector that faces a major talent crunch. As the contribution of alternative energy producing sectors like hydro, nuclear, coal, wind, solar and geothermal, in the global energy pie increases, the demand for professionals in this sector will increase as well, leading to a rise in pay packets. The dearth of skilled manpower in this sector would also lead to a situation, where professionals will have opportunities to shoulder bigger challenges and responsibilities much earlier in their career. This provides a great window of opportunity for energy professionals, as they get invaluable management experience earlier in their careers.”
Quoting on similar lines, Dr S Jayaraj, Professor and Course Coordinator, Energy Management, National Institute of Technology, Calicut, says, “Though admittedly, not many industries are aware about the need for energy management professionals in India, we are slowly catching up with the western world, where these professionals are highly sought after. As HR personnel from different industries become aware of the varied roles that energy management professionals can play, they prefer to hire them instead of mechanical engineering students, who have the technical knowledge but lack managerial skills.”
Thus, a specialization in energy auditing can benefit a Mechanical Engineer who has a keen interest in environmental and conservation issues and wishes to take a plunge in this noble field. By virtue of his or her chosen discipline, he or she is already endowed with the technical know-how of the dynamics of how a machine functions. As an Energy Auditor, he or she can further apply their existing mechanical engineering principles to leverage various systems and procedures to adjust and optimise energy input with an aim to reduce the overall energy requirements of a building or a production plant.
Lastly, prospective Energy Auditors must empower themselves with the basics of this field by enrolling in a professional course from a reputed technical training institute like MIT Skills. The pioneering institute offers a unique Advanced Post Graduate Program in Energy Auditing which covers essential topics like General Aspect of Energy Management and Energy Audit, Energy Efficiency in Thermal Utilities/Electrical Utilities, Energy Performance Assessment for Equipment and Utility Systems, Financing of Energy Efficiency, Power Sector Technology Strategy, Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), HVAC Utility, Waste to Energy (WTE), Energy Conservation Act, Energy Auditing – Home & Municipal, Demand Side Management, Energy Saving Company (ESCO) Model, Waste Heat Recovery , Building Green Building etc. The added advantage of eye-opening industrial visits makes this exhaustive course curriculum apt for an end-to-end learning experience.