Thursday, June 13, 2013

Conversion from Coal-Fired Boilers to Natural-Gas Boilers in Heats Up

Last year, the haze in the atmosphere encouraged many people to implement the “coal-to-electricity” conversion plan. According to a China Securities newspaper report, the present demolition of coal-fired boilers has reached a substantial level in its implementation.

Beginning in the second quarter when the government enacted its coal-fired boiler demolition act to prevent excessive pollution, the coal-fired boiler “annihilation” program has extended into many areas. In the context of energy-saving environmental protection, “coal to electricity” will become the big trend for the next few years. As the alternative to coal-fired boiler, gas boilers are expected to usher in a tremendous growth.

On May 13, Zhengzhou City Hall stopped the operation of a coal-fired boiler in the Yutong Bus Company by removing the 10-ton steam-boiler system. It also decided that by the end of next year, the city’s 263 coal-fired boilers will be completely demolished and converted.

In Beijing, the “coal to gas” project has entered the construction phase. Beijing Gas Group General Manager Li Yalan recently disclosed to the media that by the end of 2013, Beijing City within four districts will be coal-free and by 2015 six districts will be added.

Facilitating the conversion from coal gas to natural gas boiler, the plan is to divide Beijing this year into 3 groups of 93 coal-fired boiler areas. In the view of many, coal is seen as the culprit in bringing about hazy weather which is expected to rise even more sharply. As an example, Zhengzhou city’s monitoring data show pollutants mainly came from coal dust (41%), PM (28%) and motor vehicles (24%). Zhengzhou city’s energy structure is still dominated by coal. Coal use in 2012 reached 35,000,000 tons, which is 73% of the total fuel use.

The City Hall issued ”The blue sky” White Paper incorporating the proposed objectives of the project wherein coal-fired boilers will switch to cleaner fuels such as natural gas as an emergency measure. Exhausts from gas boilers contain much less pollutants than coal-fired boilers. According to Li Yalan, converting to natural gas in operating boilers will reduce NO2 emissions by 60% and sulfur dioxide emissions drastically by 99.5%.

In addition to cutting down pollutants, heating efficiency will be substantially improved. Currently, the heating efficiency of coal-fired boilers is 60% to 85% while that of gas-fired boilers is over 90%. Beijing’s overall conversion into the usage of gas boilers will increase heating efficiency by 30%. Beijing city hall officials will also look into the improvement of heating subsidies. This will encourage residents to choose clean energy.

China Securities News reports said that from the first two quarters of 2013, aside from Beijing, Zhengzhou, Shaanxi and Xi’an, Lanzhou City, Taiwan has also replaced its coal-fired boilers. Lanzhou city construction, environmental protection, municipal and other departments are jointly carrying out trials for its urban coal-fired boiler renovation project by dismantling 83 Taiwan steam boilers, accounting for a total dismantling by 40%.

Xinjiang Urumqi will also shift from coal to gas as part of its people’s livelihood project, part of its reconstruction project dubbed “priority among priorities in beautiful Xinjiang”. In Tibet, dozens of heating stations are also actively carrying out reconstruction of gas boilers as the deadline for complete conversion nears.

Natural gas boilers are expected to experience an upsurge in sales. Research data on the growing energy and natural gas industry, according to analyst Huang Qing of the China Securities News, will accelerate the phasing-out of coal-fired boilers into gas boilers.

Governments around the world are seen to complete in the move to reduce carbon emissions from the current levels. Together with the rest of the “oil to gas” and “coal to gas” conversion, the directive is expected to usher in a great increase in compliance.

Yutong Bus Company told the China Securities newspaper reporter that in response to city hall’s “blue sky” project, the company will accelerate its conversion from coal-fired boiler heating. Four sets of 10-ton coal-fired boilers will be demolished and replaced with 3 sets of 20-ton natural-gas boilers. They expect to be finished before the end of 2013. The other 2 sets of 25-ton coal-fired boilers will be completed in 2014. Yutong Company equipment safety director Li Zhihui told the media that the company expects to spend more than $20,000,000 for the conversion into natural gas boilers in two years’ time.

The replacement of coal-fired boilers brought good news for the new-energy boiler manufacturing industry. The China Securities News reporter said that Beijing Taikang boiler company expects to experience a rise in sales of boiler products of all types this year. However, previous product sales declined significantly for coal-fired boilers. Production of natural gas boilers showed significant growth trends.

Hangzhou Boiler Co.’s representative told the China Securities Journal that natural gas boiler production company can supply the entire boiler output by 50% as natural gas boiler sales in the country accounts for a large chunk of the market. With the West-East gas pipeline project already ongoing, the city’s natural gas power station can expect to have enough supply of good quality natural gas for boilers. The company’s natural gas needs is also expected to increase tremendously.

The optimism in the use natural gas boiler will help increase sales and further strengthen the conversion program. Hangzhou Boiler Company explained in the report that with the concerted efforts to prevent the rapid increase of atmospheric pollution, natural gas power generation opportunities will help increase the orders for the company’s waste-heat boilers, particularly gas-turbine-powered waste-heat boilers.

The giant power-station boiler parts manufacturing enterprises, Run-Chuan, revealed to the China Securities newspaper reporter that although the demand for natural gas boiler parts are relatively low at present, the company’s diversified distribution system will make natural gas boiler components an important business component of the company.  

Monday, June 10, 2013

3 Steps to Build a Culture of Sustainability and Achieve Global Environmental Goals

Although it is common for companies to push sustainability results by establishing definite, time-bound goals, attaining them is a distinct process for every enterprise. Innovation, investment and operational savvy all play a part in achieving success; but the most significant factor is formulating a vigorous culture of sustainability that incorporates this approach into every facet of the business.

Recently, our company announced that over the past three years we have made noteworthy improvements in our environmental performance. This included reduction of our energy usage by 12%, our greenhouse gas emissions by 15.7%, and attaining a leading-edge level of 3.5 hectoliters of water used for every hectoliter of beer made, posting an 18.6% reduction. These efficiency improvements were all achieved mainly without any major investment in new, sophisticated technology.

Like any global company reach, our worldwide operations face various local conditions. Challenges ranging from the capabilities and age of equipment to the diversity in quality and availability of raw materials mean that choosing a “one-size-fits-all” approach is often impossible. The main approach that can steer a company toward environmental maturity is to develop a culture of environmental conservation and awareness into all aspects of every employee’s tasks on a daily basis.

This idea has been around for a while; however, it is also something that is not often observed in reality. For us, ascertaining that we provide incentives and challenges to our 118,000 fellow workers to make gradual changes in the work environment – big or small, within our more than 140 breweries and soft drink facilities – was the best method to attain our three-year goals. Along the way, we discovered some essential factors in establishing such a culture of sustainability:

1.Elevate sustainability initiatives to the same level as other business-critical functions

Having employees scattered worldwide, it can be hard activating everyone to focus on sustainability objectives. From the boardroom to the brewery floor, we expect people to focus on environmental performance as much as they do on other vital business functions. Hence, companies can encourage all colleagues to stay on the same page – focused on attaining sustainability goals.

Establishing an operational management approach that puts environmental objectives alongside those for efficiency, quality and safety can help to develop coordination on a company-wide scale. We call our management system Voyager Plant Optimizations (VPO), and is custom-designed for our unique operations. A company’s system should include policies, procedures and guidelines to aid teams in performing more efficiently, while giving room for creative collaboration and innovation. VPO has allowed our entire organization to gain well-oiled coordination and is the primary source of our successes in our environmental performance.

The management system also encourages best-practice sharing within the entire company by delineating distinct responsibility for assuring that reductions are reached and allowing for targets to be embraced by all.

2. Encourage global best practice sharing, tailored to local conditions

Companies operating globally often allow every region the freedom to identify best practices that apply under local conditions. However, businesses must grab the opportunity to utilize these acquired lessons in other regions and scale them across the company, as much as possible.

Based on our experience, best-practice sharing can aid regional teams enhance their environmental performance. For instance, our team in China attained the company’s highest region-wide reduction in energy, water and carbon emissions between 2009 and 2012 – 30%, 38%, and 29% reductions, respectively. To help the team in China accelerate their improvement, our global team took the initial progress forward by encouraging best-practice sharing from other regions. Among the new initiatives included were how to optimize efficiency in boiler combustion and how to improve time-of-use management through a meticulous analysis of electricity rate-schedules.

A few months after, our China colleagues reversed the tables and started sharing their own best practices in our global workshops with other Zones. The China team’s approach of continuously benchmarking utilities usage between brewery departments by digging into the energy and water data, for instance, has now been applied to other regions globally. Hence, the lesson gained here is to develop a culture of sustained improvement where colleagues can openly share challenges and solutions and apply them to meet local conditions in real-time.

3. Empower employees to continually drive improvement

We have also found that it works well to encourage all colleagues to behave as if they owned the business. When each colleague treats the company’s goals as their own responsibility and is empowered to act on them, great things happen. Colleagues in our Cartersville, GA brewery exhibited this ownership concept when they decided to adopt a weekly “Water Walks” around the facility to pinpoint areas where water was being wasted. In 2012 alone, these walks succeeded in a total reduction of 49 million liters of water usage.
By sharing the responsibility for achieving targets for sustainability with every colleague and empowering each one to discover ways to improve, companies can achieve a degree of performance and commitment that would not be otherwise possible.

Based on our track record, developing a culture of sustainability that is adapted and valued across the entire company is vital for businesses striving to minimize their environmental impact and to meet sustainability goals. The results can prove that this is so.