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Harnessing Industrial Energy Efficiency: Ten Actions for Instant Cost and Emission Reductions

The Industrial Energy Efficiency Playbook by The Energy Efficiency Movement

The Industrial Energy Efficiency Playbook by The Energy Efficiency Movement

In response to the escalating urgency of climate change and recent energy security challenges, the Energy Efficiency Movement, in partnership with ABB, has developed a playbook focusing on energy efficiency as a powerful tool to mitigate these issues. Despite the underrepresentation of industrial energy efficiency in discussions, this sector accounts for the largest global consumption of electricity, natural gas, and coal, representing substantial cost and environmental impacts.

This playbook introduces ten practical actions that industrial leaders can undertake, transcending basic energy efficiency measures. These actions, centered on mature, accessible technologies, promise significant impacts on energy costs and emissions, and can be quickly deployed without complex integrations. While capital investment can be minimized, the benefits can be substantial, offering a promising pathway for sustainable industrial growth.

Ten Strategic Actions:

Ten Strategic Actions infographic

Navigating the energy challenges of our times requires actionable insights and concerted effort from all industry players. Recognizing the potential of this guide to inform and inspire, we'd like to share an overview of this Playbook, focusing on the ten practical actions recommended for industrial leaders.

If you'd like to read the full Playbook, click the button below.

Now, let's dive into these ten actions that promise to enhance our industry's sustainability and resilience in the face of growing energy challenges.

Action #1: Auditing Operations for Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency audits can provide significant gains in industry by offering a benchmark for improvements and identifying potential efficiency measures. Though the audit itself doesn't directly create efficiencies, it can reveal ways to reduce costs and energy use. A level 1 commercial energy audit can lead to immediate reductions in energy use and costs by 5-10%, with more thorough audits revealing potential savings of up to 40%.

Action #2: Right-Sizing Industrial Assets and Processes

Right-sizing industrial assets and processes can mitigate excessive energy use caused by equipment oversizing. An accurate matching of equipment capacities to loads leads to more efficient energy and asset use, with benefits including improved operational efficiency and adaptation to changing operating conditions. Immediate results in energy and emissions reduction can be achieved through right-sizing, with further benefits depending on the lifecycle of assets.

Action #3: Harnessing the Power of Connectivity through the Industrial Internet of Things

Implementing Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) technologies can provide companies with insights into their energy consumption and reveal potential areas for improvement. However, only 35% of industrial organizations globally have implemented IoT technologies at scale. Despite this, the connectivity of devices can lead to the identification of inefficiencies, with immediate benefits achieved by addressing issues such as 'ghost assets' that draw power without contributing to productivity.

Action #4: The Power of High-Efficiency Motors in Industry

Installing high-efficiency motors in industrial powertrains can significantly reduce energy consumption and emissions. The potential for efficiency is huge, considering that nearly half of the world's electricity is used to produce mechanical energy through electric motor-driven systems. Transitioning to more efficient machines can yield immediate results and potentially reduce global electricity consumption by up to 10%.

Action #5: Capitalizing on Variable Speed Drives for Enhanced Efficiency

Variable speed drives can control the speed of motors and the amount of torque produced, offering a more efficient way to manage energy consumption in motor-driven systems. This technology can improve the energy efficiency of a system by up to 30%, providing immediate cost and emissions benefits that continue throughout the lifetime of the operation.

Action #6: Amplifying Efficiency through Electrification of Industrial Fleets

Industries can significantly reduce their carbon footprint by shifting from fossil-fuel powered vehicles to electric ones. With the costs of batteries and electric drivetrains dropping due to advancements in technology and economies of scale, it's becoming increasingly viable to electrify industrial vehicles. This could not only help reduce emissions, but also decrease dependence on volatile oil prices.

Action #7: Efficient, Well Maintained Heat Exchangers

Heat exchangers are crucial for industrial processes, but they are often not maintained well, leading to significant energy inefficiency. By ensuring regular maintenance and upgrading to efficient heat exchangers, industries can significantly reduce their energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Additionally, heat recovery and reuse can further improve overall efficiency.

Action #8: Switching Gas Boilers to Heat Pumps

Heat pumps can replace fuel-fired boilers to provide heating needs, and they are far more efficient in terms of converting electricity to heat. These devices can be used for both space heating and industrial process heating, further contributing to energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions.

Action #9: Deploying Smart Building Management Systems

The use of intelligent systems to manage building operations like lighting, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning can significantly cut down energy consumption. Automation can deliver immediate results upon commissioning, helping to achieve greater energy efficiency and reduce costs.

Action #10: Shifting to Cloud-Based Data Storage

With the growth of digital services, the demand for data storage and computing power is rising. However, data centers consume a significant amount of energy. By transitioning to cloud-based data centers, companies can leverage the economies of scale and aggressive energy efficiency measures implemented by cloud providers. This shift can lead to immediate energy efficiency benefits.

Conclusion: Harnessing the Power of Efficiency for a Sustainable Future

The immense potential of energy efficiency remains largely untapped in many industrial sectors, despite the significant opportunities it presents for reducing costs and emissions. Navigating the intricate path towards net-zero emissions by 2050, as outlined in the Paris Agreement, requires urgent action, and energy efficiency offers the most immediate and tangible results. The International Energy Agency's call to invest in energy efficiency now should resonate strongly across industries worldwide, as we collectively strive to decarbonize our economies.

Efficiency must move to the forefront of the industrial corporate agenda, driving innovation, and empowering workforces to embrace and utilize new technologies. Educational initiatives and incentive programs can play a crucial role in making energy efficiency a priority among employees.

Moreover, as organizations ponder over strategies to tackle climate change and escalating energy costs, they find themselves at a crossroads, with five possible routes—reducing energy consumption, shifting to renewable energy sources, promoting circular business models, creating carbon sinks, and enhancing energy efficiency. While all of these approaches are essential, energy efficiency shines as the one promising the most immediate results with minimal downsides.

Given the existing technological advancements and the pressing need to act in the face of rising energy prices, the business case for energy efficiency is stronger than ever. It is time for industries worldwide to unlock the potential of energy efficiency, embracing it not just as an alternative, but as a necessity for a sustainable and profitable future.

Joining the Energy Efficiency Movement

In 2022 we announced Ecogate joining the Energy Efficiency Movement, an initiative that brings together industry leaders from around the planet to innovate and act for a more energy-efficient, regenerative, and adaptive global environment. By focusing on industrial energy efficiency, we can effectively and rapidly reduce energy costs and CO2 emissions, making our future greener for generations to come.

Energy Efficiency Movement - Join

If you'd like to learn more about the Energy Efficiency Movement, or would also like to join the fight towards a more sustainable future, click here.

Author, David Vera


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