Are you falling prey to false beliefs when it comes to energy efficiency?

First step to energy efficiency - being well informed

Did you even know that there are myths and misconceptions about energy efficiency firmly anchored in our society?  There are!

Energy efficiency is the mandate of Cascades’ Energy Action Group (EAG). One of the group’s primary responsibilities is to reduce the amount of energy consumption in the company’s processes.  And as pervasive as they can be, there is no room for false beliefs when it comes to maximizing our energy reduction.  We have to deal in the real world.

Sébastien Lafourcade and Ulrika Wising discuss the Top 10 misconceptions about energy efficiency in our industry, in their article “Think you’re energy efficient?”, in the September/October 2011 issue of Paper360°.


  • Misconceptions 1: Technology is the solution

Energy management software, advanced process control, and data analysis software are good tools, but they are only as good as the user. No matter how smart the system is, people make the final call.

A model-predictive control can be turned off. A dashboard can be ignored. You need to adapt the technology to people, not the other way around. People don’t need new systems, they need information, preferably provided in their existing environment so they can manage energy better and make their life easier.

The most important thing is to put people at the center of the process. What do you do to increase people’s capabilities?


  • Misconceptions 2: Trust only expertise and experiences when making decisions

Pulp and paper mills have complex processes with a long history of rebuilds, patches , trial and error, smart fixes, and operation paradigms. This makes problem-solving a challenging task.

Experience and expertise are great assets to reduce energy costs, but only when they are supported by facts that will lead to the real root causes of a problem. Leverage your process historical data, where monthly average metrics and experience only give you part of the story.

Benchmark your mill regularly. If you are ‘‘best in class’’, what can you do to stay in this position? If you are not that good, there is an opportunity to improve and be more competitive.

Data analysis gives you the real picture of your situation and the real potential for improvement. Are you getting the most out of your process historical data?


  • Misconceptions 3: We have identified what to do – all we are waiting for is time and money

There are always opportunities to reduce energy in a complex process such as those in a pulp and paper mill. Doing audits and reporting on energy to identify these opportunities is the first step, but not the most challenging.

Build a clear action plan for the top three projects. Implement them with the support of people on the floor. Track savings with real-time process data. Use the savings to sell and fund the next projects on the list.

It doesn’t need to be perfect the first time as long as you keep the ball rolling. Are your energy projects part of a continuous improvement process?


  • 7 other myths identified by Sébastien Lafourcade and Ulrika Wising:


  • Energy efficiency = Capital investment.
  • Energy should be managed separately from production.
  • Energy is a pure production cost.
  • We need these insurance policies.
  • Energy management is a one-person project.
  • Energy management is (almost) only done at the management level.
  • Energy interactions in the process make management too complex.


Whether at work or at home, false beliefs are almost everywhere. So – what misconceptions are you guilty of when it comes to energy efficiency? Don’t hesitate to share.

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About the Author
Émilie Allen

Émilie Allen received her chemical engineering degree from Université Laval in 2002. She started working as a project manager with Cascades GIE inc. (Energy Action Group) the same year. During this period, she perfected her knowledge of electricity and thermal energy in addition to building a solid foundation in energy efficiency. In 2006, she joined the Norampac – Kingsey Falls team as a technical supervisor. This experience enabled her to develop her personnel management and leadership skills, while putting her knowledge of energy to good use. In 2008, she transferred back to Cascades GIE inc. and managed the Group until late 2010. Her passion at work and her interest in saving energy made her the perfect candidate for Cascades’s Corporate Energy Director. What drives her to work in the field of energy efficiency? Making large machinery work more efficiently and pollute less creates positive impacts, and she enjoys that.

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