Industry, energy and efficiency: a paradigm for the future?


Can our society exist without industry? Does it depend on energy to survive? If any answer is grounded today on need and on prices, are these two factors able to give us the key to tomorrow? Society is structured, mobilised and to a degree validated around a model of economic functionality. Industry knows full well that only if a short term formula is found that justifies it will it make the slightest change to its nature and way of working. Energy efficiency in industrial processes is not legislated, nor does it have a technical regulation: no benchmark equation exists. We are living in a period of appearances, immediacy and emotions. We can see for ourselves the devastating drop in industrial activity, measured in terms of its contribution to national GDP and in employment numbers. The question that industry needs to ask itself is what paradigm shift is required to adapt itself to the times we are in – or to correct them!

I will take the example of Catalonia because I know it a little better than other parts of Spain. In this region, at the end of the seventies and beginning of the eighties, the oil crisis mobilised industry less than did certain recently qualified energy graduates with enquiring minds who were joining the working environment.

Among keen entrepreneurs and hardworking civil servants, energy was part of a number of strategic plans, some with a renewable slant, others with an international moniker and all with a degree of ambition to generate market or public sector presence in the face of the pressing need for balance, in both social and cost terms. Someone knocked on the doors of industries, in those days more numerous, and asked about energy. If it was difficult to find the answer to the costs, you had best not even imagine the answer as to use.

Article published in: FuturENERGY January-February 2014