Get Fired Up!

March 1, 2005
It’s not often that we get to tackle a subject that has such clear-cut benefits and broad application across all industry segments.

Energy management is one such topic.

In this issue, you’ll find articles with tips for how you can use high-efficiency motors and drives, peak demand management, and alternative fuels to save your plant money.

How much money? Camera and film giant Kodak saves more than $250,000 per year at its facility in Rochester, N.Y., with a program to replace older motors with NEMA Premium-efficiency motors. Abitibi Consolidated uses an in-house developed system to monitor peak demand and load patterns—with annual savings of C$1 million across five paper mills in Ontario. And Alcoa has saved more than $1.5 million at an aluminum extrusion plant by reducing its use of natural gas and electricity.

Managing energy is a win-win proposition. But there is one downside—not enough of you care about it. In fact, based on surveys and government data, only about one-half of all U.S. manufacturers employ energy management programs. One-half!

As a sector, manufacturing uses about 30 percent of the energy in the United States, and accounts for about 36 percent of the natural gas consumption. And while the United States is the world’s largest producer of two essential raw materials—refined petroleum products and chemicals—these two industries lead the pack of industrial energy consumers.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Information Administration (EIA), petroleum refineries are the largest industrial users of energy, but only about 50 percent practice energy-management activities. The second largest user of energy is the chemical sector, yet only 49 percent cite at least one energy-management activity. The top reported activities included energy audits, electricity load controls, equipment or facilities modification to improve direct machine drive, and purchase of electricity under special electricity rate schedules.

The United States is the world’s leading consumer of paper and paperboard products (no surprise there), and the forest products sector is the third largest energy user. But a woeful 25 percent of facilities reported energy-management activities. Industrial energy users in the aluminum, glass and steel sectors reported activity levels similar to those in the chemical sector.

This means you

But let’s say you don’t work in one of the above-mentioned industries, so why should you care. Well, does your plant use motors? Do you consume steel, aluminum or chemicals in the products you manufacture? Do you heat your facility or use computers? Then energy management applies to you.

There’s a lot of money being left on the manufacturing table—be it electricity for inefficient motors (on average, motors consume 70 percent of the electricity used in a plant), excess energy use in peak demand times, or energy waste in released steam, inefficient boilers and improperly sized pumps.

On Feb. 15, the DOE’s Industrial Technologies Program (ITP) announced a funding opportunity for industry to conduct plant-wide energy use assessments (PWAs). A PWA examines energy-intensive processes in an industrial facility, determines which systems offer the greatest energy savings potential and identifies specific actions to achieve those savings. Up to a maximum of $1 million total funding is available, with up to $100,000 available per award.

This is the eighth time since 1998 that the ITP has offered the assessment program, and to date has awarded cost-shared funding of $4 million to 49 projects. The annual savings identified in the 35 completed projects totals $186 million.

Proposals are due May 3, 2005, and more details can be found at www.oit.doe.gov/bestpractices. This is an excellent energy-management opportunity. What are the other 50 percent of you waiting for?