RACA Journal June 2016 - Page 31

Feature Continued from page 27 and Markets, one of the world’s largest market research stores. The report has been prepared based on an indepth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. It covers the global thermal energy storage market landscape and its growth prospects in the coming years. According to the report, published in January 2015, factors such as growing demand for uninterrupted power supply drive the market growth. Increased disturbances in the electrical power grid in various countries have fuelled the need for thermal energy storage systems. South African picture Although this technology is nothing new to the South African market, uptake has been slow despite many obvious benefits. “Not only does installing thermal ice storage lead to energy savings but its main benefit is improving load factors,” says Andrew Ross of Airco. “But most clients are not aware of this and they need to be educated by the consulting engineer to not just stare themselves blind against the high capital expenditure.” Eskom itself is in favour of this demand side management technology, especially as it will help prevent load shedding if more companies invest in it. “If we put ice storage on every chiller in South Africa, we wouldn’t have to build another power plant,” says Ross. However, Eskom doesn’t seem to be doing enough as there is no rebate system or real time-of-use-tariff benefi t to motivate installation yet (despite talks of this coming into play in future). There are a few projects going up here and there, usually partial ice storage as opposed to full, but the technology is not nearly as popular as it is overseas. Pieter de Bod, technical director of WSP, has some ideas as to why: a. Bad publicity or stigma about previous ice storage systems not functioning correctly. This could be a result of incomplete initial commissioning and fine tuning; infrequent and incorrect maintenance; or lack of technical skills of facility managers to operate the ice storage system. In some cases building owners have totally bypassed the ice storage system due to the above problems. b. Many developers are still sceptical of the initial high additional capital costs for ice storage systems. c. Space constraints for the ice tanks. d. Some conservative mechanical engineers do not want to risk this technology. e. Incorrect payback and Net Present Value (NPV) calculations. These calculations seem complex (but are not really). www.hvacronline.co.za The Novartis project boasts 10 ice storage tanks on the roof. “I believe that the market is improving slowly but steadily,” says De Bod. According to him, the main mechanical engineers and ice storage tank system suppliers have their work cut out for them. “It is necessary for mechanical engineers to spend indepth time researching and familiarising themselves with the pros and cons of ice storage systems, so that developers and clients can be provided with solid information, accurate payback and NPV calculations and justification for some additional capital cost, highlighting the long term benefits, and demonstrating the international success of ice storage systems as well as their link to environmental sustainability,” he says. “Professionals must also provide indepth training to facility maintenance staff on ice storage systems and do their share in promoting energy awareness and education,” says De Bod. He also stresses the importance of placing a high emphasis on initial commissioning and fine tuning of ice storage systems and integration into air-conditioning systems to deliver the benefits of reliable, robust and efficient ice storage systems. This topic of continuous commissioning and issues with controls comes up time and again. “The real challenge comes in with the building management system (BMS),” expands Ralph Cramer of Blue Hemisphere who worked with De Bod on the Novartis front cover project as the HVAC contractor. This was the first ice storage system Blue Hemisphere was involved in and Cramer reports that there were no issues from their side with the installation. “If the chiller is the heart of the installation, then the ice storage is the lungs and the BMS the brains. You have to make sure that the installation is controlled perfectly, especially with ice storage and that’s why continuous commissioning is required.” But if everything is running the way it should, the system pays for itself in a matter of years and there is nothing really complicated on the installation side. Continued on page 31 RACA Journal I June 2016 29