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).

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“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

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