Engineers encouraged to make most of energy opportunities
New Zealand industry is heavily dependent on refrigeration – yet too many businesses don’t realise the cost when their systems are functioning poorly, says Kirk Archibald, Project Manager at the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).
“In some sectors, refrigeration can account for 70% of electricity consumption, so it’s a major operating cost. Yet maintenance budgets are often the first to get cut, which means systems can be chugging along very inefficiently, costing money daily in wasted energy.”
He said engineers could open up valuable business opportunities by educating clients about the value of energy saved through regular maintenance, or energyefficient upgrades. The recent publication by EMANZ of an energy audit standard for refrigeration provides a framework for engineers to identify and assess energy saving opportunities. To find out more visit www.eecabusiness.govt.nz/services-andfunding/industrial/energy-audit-grants
“Often, simply improving operational practices for little or no cost, can cut energy consumption by 15% or more. Technical improvements can reduce energy use by 15% to 40%. That could be of huge value to a client.”
If a company had a gross margin of 10%, saving $1 in energy costs was equivalent to achieving $10 in additional sales revenue, he said.
Installing meters on refrigeration units was a good way for engineers to help customers keep tabs on energy use and maintenance needs. When refrigeration performance dips – as shown by increased weekly energy use – it’s time to call the engineer.
Often, simply improving operational practices for little or no cost, can cut energy consumption by 15% or more.
Another relatively simple way to support clients’ energy efficiency was to reduce ‘parasitic’ loads by eliminating heat gains. Thermal imaging could help identify hot spots in refrigeration systems - for example breaks in pipe insulation, warm patches on coolstore walls where hot services are on the other side, or inefficient lighting.
“Lighting is a notorious energy-waster in coolstores, as it produces a lot of heat. Replacing old inefficient lights and fittings can be done with a very short payback. LEDs are often ideal in coolstores – they’re highly efficient and perform well at low temperatures,” said Mr Archibald.
He said it was also worthwhile investigating opportunities for heat recovery, which could pay huge dividends to clients in energy saved.
“Taking waste heat from refrigeration and using it to heat process water for example, can massively reduce hot water energy use. We’ve seen the benefits of this across so many industries – be it dairy, fishing, biotechnology or food production.”
EECA’s Good Practice Guide for Industrial Refrigeration (2010) was a useful handbook for energy efficiency, he said. The guide can be downloaded from www.eecabusiness.govt.nz
To find out more, visit www.eecabusiness.govt.nz/industrial