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Renewable Energy Post Installation Issues
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: A Realistic Look at Renewable Energy TechnologyPt. 2: Drawbacks to Renewable EnergyPt. 3: This Page
One client was considering a geo-exchange system but complained about a ground-source heat-pump system that had been installed on a job more than two years prior and is still shaking out. The client had not had the system commissioned but conceded it would have been a good idea.
Commissioning is essential. We have worked with commissioning agents and as commissioning agents, and overwhelmingly, commissioned projects never seem to have as many major issues, compared with those that had not been commissioned. Commissioning helps ensure the systems operate the way they were designed.
Though declining in cost, renewable-energy systems are still a bit of a luxury. Nobody would buy a luxury care without knowing it passed a rigorous multi-point factory inspection. Install a project in a facility without commissioning, and the result might be years spent tightening belts, adjusting sheaves and resetting controls. This scenario is a maintenance nightmare, not to mention the losses in operating efficiency.
Managers who need another way to improve maintenance can use a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), particularly if their facilities feature large renewable-energy projects with many moving parts. If a facility plans to depend on renewable energy, preventative and predictive maintenance are essential.
Managers have many issues to think about when they are considering renewable-energy systems. But a decline in capital costs and steady increases in energy costs are fueling a growth in the number of projects designed and installed. Managers considering implementing such projects need to understand both the technical and financial implications of these systems, as well as the likely impact on maintenance and safety.
Ryan T. Evans, P.E., MBA, LEED AP BD+C is a mechanical engineer and sustainability consultant for Henderson Engineers of Kansas City. He specializes in energy, air quality and building durability issues. John Sommers, P.E., CGD, LEED AP BD+C is an associate and director of sustainable design with the firm, specializing in the design of high-performance building systems, including solar and geo-exchange.