Barriers and Opportunities for Cutting Energy Use

 In Blog, Commercial Construction, Industrial Construction, Production Upgrade

U.S. manufacturing isn’t throwing the biggest punches on a global scale, but the industry is still a heavyweight where the nation’s economy is concerned. Manufacturing contributed $2.08 trillion, or about 12.5 percent, to U.S. gross domestic product in 2013 and supported more than 17 million jobs. And in 2012, American’s with manufacturing jobs were earning 25 percent more than the average U.S. worker.

Industrial Energy Consumption Projected to Grow

Manufacturing is also the country’s biggest energy sucker, accounting for 24 percent of the 95 quadrillion units of energy the states reportedly consume annually. The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates the U.S. will be up to 102 quadrillion units by 2025. While manufacturers have done well in reducing energy use over the past decade, the department expects nearly all of the projected growth to come from the industrial sector. Much more needs to be done to reduce energy use in U.S. manufacturing.

Opportunities to Improve Efficiency Are Many

The DOE recently published a report detailing some of the most common barriers manufacturers face in their efforts to become more energy efficient. In the report, the department also points out the sector’s greatest opportunities for reducing energy use and provides examples of success.

Researchers identified three major areas for energy use in manufacturing:

  • End-use energy efficiency which includes “a broad range of energy-efficient technologies and management practices […] including advanced electric motors and drives, high efficiency boilers, waste heat recovery, energy-efficient lamps and lighting controls, modernization or replacement of process equipment, improved process performance through the use of sensors and controls,” etc.
  • Demand response – defined as a change in electricity usage by the end user in response to changes in the price of power over time.
  • Combined heat and power – also referred to as cogeneration, CHP is defined as “the simultaneous production of electric and thermal energy from a single fuel source.”

Within these three areas, researchers found 42 circumstances that have been deterring or preventing manufacturers from implementing energy use improvements— all of which are categorized as economic/financial, regulatory or informational.  

Competition for Capital Is the Greatest Challenge

Internal competition for capital was the first barrier listed for both end-use and CHP improvements, which suggests that manufacturers are still seeing reasons to spend their money elsewhere.

Manufacturers are also dealing with conflicting and underutilized incentives from utility companies and regulatory bodies, as well as a lack of understanding when it comes to the overall, long-term business benefits of greener operations.

Reducing waste through process improvements often goes hand in hand with optimizing productivity and potential growth, for example. In order to accomplish efficiency goals and reign in overall energy use, manufacturers must make it a priority to invest in end-use efficiency, demand response and cogeneration.

Hire an Efficiency Expert

Storee can help your facility break through efficiency barriers with manufacturing production upgrades. Contact us at 888-736-2032 to learn how more efficient processes can improve your bottom line.