Industry - Save Energy & 20% of Costs
Simple measures can save money and save the environment
…by employing simple and easy measures that cost little if anything to implement, organisations can cut energy costs by up to 20%.
For many industrial companies, energy is their largest single variable cost. This is particularly true in the chemical processing and products sector, where it can account for up to 50% of all input costs.
To put it into perspective, the sector’s annual energy bill of around £1bn represents 22% of all UK industry’s energy usage and 4% of the nation’s total CO² emissions.
The chemical sector is not alone. The engineering, food and drink, metals and paper products sectors all create millions of tonnes of CO² every year. And while the breakdown of energy usage in each sector may vary, there are five key areas where energy savings can be made:
- electric motor driven equipment;
- heating and lighting;
- general processes;
- boilers and steam; and
- compressed air.
The Carbon Trust, the government–funded body established to assist businesses in reducing their energy costs, estimates that wasted energy costs businesses millions of pounds in lost revenue every year. Yet, by employing simple and easy measures that cost little if anything to implement, organisations can cut energy costs by up to 20%.
Motors & Drives
Motor driven systems are major energy users and consume an estimated two–thirds of electrical energy used by industry. It’s worth remembering that a motor running for 4,000 hours a year, will have an annual electricity cost of about 10 times its capital cost.
Good house keeping, such as turning off the motor when not required, can easily save money as can regular maintenance. For instance, a misaligned motor drive coupling by as little as 0.6mm can lead to a 8% power loss and eventual coupling failure. As motors often need to be oversized for an application, variable speed drives or multiple speed motors will exactly match the load requirements, thereby reducing energy consumption. Alternatively, matching the motor size and load requirements in certain applications will have the same effect.
Heating bills can be cut by approximately 8% by simply turning down the thermostat by 1°C
Heating & Lighting
Heating bills can be cut by approximately 8% by simply turning down the thermostat by 1°C and while the recommended temperature at work is 19–20°C, this can be less for warehouses or where manual work is undertaken. Other measures include using timers to turn off the heating when the factory is not in use, installing air barriers at loading bay doors to prevent heat loss and light sensors to switch off lights in unoccupied areas. This is before considering the latest generation of energy efficient lighting and luminaires.
Process Control Systems
In many production operations better process control is the key to improving energy efficiency as processes are often overheated or run for more than the optimum time — all of which wastes a great deal of energy. The key lies in eliminating manual controls and fitting automatic systems. And while not directly related to electricians, poorly maintained boilers and leaky, or continually left on compressors, can significantly contribute to energy costs.
A two–year UK field trial of advanced metering in SMEs by the Carbon Trust found that on average carbon savings of 12% were identified, of which 5% were easily implemented.
To help companies clearly identify energy usage and potential savings, one the most important measures that can be employed is advanced metering. Although the technology is fairly well established in companies with significant energy demands, it is not widely used by small to medium sized enterprises (SME) where it is estimated there are 2.7 million manually read energy meters.
A two–year UK field trial of advanced metering in SMEs by the Carbon Trust found that on average carbon savings of 12% were identified, of which 5% were easily implemented. The trail concluded that there was a very strong business case for using advanced metering at multisite SMEs and energy–intensive SME sectors.
To help companies reduce energy costs a variety of information can be downloaded from the Carbon Trust website. This includes details of government grants and tax incentives, fact sheets and case studies. The site also contains details on how to carry out an full energy audit referred to as an ‘energy walk round’.