Barriers and Opportunities for Cutting Energy Use
Note: Updated Dec. 23, 2020
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 $2.33 trillion, or about 11.3 percent, to U.S. gross domestic product in 2018 and supported more than 12.7 million jobs.
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 United States reportedly consumes 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.
Just like you might install energy-efficient appliances in your home to lessen energy costs, energy savings can also be had in manufacturing facilities. Of course, heating and cooling systems in a 20,000 square foot manufacturing plant are more energy-intensive than a 1,500 square foot home.
Energy savings in the home – appliances, smart technology, even the roofing materials – may cut costs by up to 30 percent. Although that may not be terribly feasible for your manufacturing plant, imagine how much can be saved by shaving just five percent of energy consumption?
OPPORTUNITIES TO REDUCE ENERGY CONSUMPTION
The DOE 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 – This may include a variety of energy-efficient technologies and management practices. “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,” were a few examples.
- 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 usage 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. This 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. A lack of understanding when it comes to the overall, long-term business benefits of greener operations also provides challenges to the manufacturer’s industry.
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.
These changes don’t have to cost a lot of money, either. Is your machinery regularly serviced and maintained to make sure it’s running and peak efficiency. Something as simple as inspecting gaskets or joints on air compressors for leaks on a regular basis will save money in the long term. It will also keep your equipment from being over-stressed.
Only by taking a look at your entire operation will you truly understand how productivity can be improved. It may be replacing outdated equipment, improving project management all along the manufacturing line, or just reconfiguring the facility floor.
HIRE AN EFFICIENCY EXPERT
Storee can help your facility breakthrough efficiency barriers with manufacturing production upgrades. Improved compressed air systems, more efficient floor plans to improve productivity while helping with energy management, and smart technologies can help with annual energy audits.
For example, being able to track employees on the manufacturing floor can provide analytics that will improve processes. This lessens the amount of energy needed to do the same work. Learn how crews move around the facility, what equipment they use and for how long, and other actions they take throughout the day.
With this information, you’ll be able to plan improvements that not only make your facility more productive, it can also make your facility safer. Storee Construction Facility Contractors will get an overview of your entire plant and make recommendations throughout the entire manufacturing process.
However, any improvements should not sacrifice employee safety. With an average of $156 billion lost annually due to workers getting sick or injured, any energy savings you see will be compromised. The solutions Storee Construction creates will never sacrifice other parts of your manufacturing processes.
Wondering if your processes are as efficient as they could be? Looking to save money on energy consumption? Is it time to review practices that have been in place for decades? Reach out to Storee Construction and learn how more efficient processes can improve your bottom line.