Big savings on offer from improved energy efficiency

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Food factories could save huge sums by being more energy efficient
Food factories could save huge sums by being more energy efficient

Related tags: Energy efficiency, Efficient energy use

Many food and drink manufacturers are still reluctant to take advantage of efficiency savings, which will not only cut their energy bills but also reduce their environmental impact, it has emerged.

From the hundreds of energy audits conducted by energy efficiency consultancy Inprova Energy, its assessors have identified energy savings opportunities ranging from 5–20%.

But, in many cases, companies have not translated these audits into action, the consultancy claimed.

“The benefits are obvious, but the difficult job is in shaking off the ‘Cinderella’ status of energy efficiency and shifting it up the corporate agenda from plant room to board room,”​ said Inprova Energy’s md Michael Dent.

“By turning their backs on the quick win opportunities that energy efficiency can bring – often at no and low cost – businesses are losing out on an opportunity to ramp up profits while also helping the planet.”

‘Losing out on an opportunity’

Inprova Energy suggests that food and drink firms should focus their energy efficiency activities on several key areas that are common to many companies.

These include heating/hot water, ventilation and air-conditioning. The consultancy pointed out that space heating can be a major source of waste, where simple energy saving measures can reduce costs by as much as 30%.

It is often possible to cut lighting costs by up to 30% through low-cost measures and technologies with rapid payback, such as LED, claimed Inprova.

And around 20% of a corporate energy bill can be down to office equipment, such as computers, monitors and photocopiers, it added.

Source of wasted energy

Poor control of building energy management is another source of wasted energy, said the energy efficiency consultancy.

Modern building energy management systems are one of the most effective solutions for optimising efficiency in a building, often resulting in savings of 1020%, it claimed.

Other areas where saving could be made are poorly insulated doors and windows, especially in areas that are being heated or cooled.

In factories and warehouses, good quality refrigeration and chiller systems can achieve up to 50% energy cost savings, said Inprova, while idling compressors should be switched off in between use and their air pressure reduced, if possible, it added.

‘Life-cycle costing’

Meanwhile, Steve Schofield, director and chief executive of the British Pump Manufacturers’ Association, has argued that when purchasing pumps, companies should look at ‘life-cycle costing’ – including the cost of energy consumed – rather than concentrating on the lowest initial cost, when it comes to specifying pumping equipment.

According to statistics from the US Department of Energy’s Office of Industrial Technologies, pumping systems can account for between 25 and 50% of the total energy consumed by certain industrial processes.

A pump’s life cycle cost encompasses the total overall costs that accumulate throughout the life of a pump, from installation, energy consumption, operation, maintenance and down-time, even through to the environmental impacts and final decommissioning and disposal of the pump.

By analysing the costs that are likely to be incurred throughout the operational life of a pump, it is possible to objectively compare all the potential options at the outset, said Schofield.

Related topics: Processing equipment

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