We are working with industry and government to assess and demonstrate the viability of numerous technologies for improving the energy productivity across the manufacturing supply chain in Australia and to aid their demonstration and implementation.
Technologies and measures to improve energy productivity can be grouped into a number of broad categories.
ENERGY PRODUCTIVITY BASICS
What we refer to as the basics are the technology measures many would already be familiar with for delivery greater energy productivity and which will continue to be at the core of a majority of energy efficiency and productivity strategies:
variable speed drives
optimised pump sizing
PROCESS HEATING AND COOLING
Process heating and cooling accounts for a large proportion of energy use in manufacturing, particularly in the food and beverage sector. These systems are notoriously inefficient. Steam systems usually operate with an overall efficiency below 70%. Cooling systems often have issues with controls and set points. Upgrading equipment and replacing fossil fuel-powered process heating technologies with renewable energy-powered alternatives can result in significant energy savings.
COMPRESSED AIR SYSTEMS
Compressed air systems are sometimes referred to as ‘the fourth utility’ after electricity, gas and water. They are widely used in industry for activities such as drying, assembly, blow-moulding and paint-spraying.
Many existing systems are extremely inefficient, with 80% to 90% losses, making compressed air a major focus for energy productivity improvements. A2EP has conducted extensive research and analysis on compressed air efficiency opportunities and alternatives.
So much energy optimisation and energy productivity improvement can be achieved through the implementation of smart, integrated energy metering and measurement systems.
Seeking yield improvements from waste recovery and by-product utilisation can not only create a cleaner source of energy, it stands to solve various waste issues and help organisations close the loop as we move towards a circular economy.
Equipment for energy recovery gives excellent return on investment and significantly improves energy productivity. Right now in Australia there is more than 5GW of heat recovery equipment installed across many sectors across Australia, including alumina, crude oil refining, chemicals, non-ferrous metals, sugar, dairy, beverage, HVAC and refrigeration systems. However, there is potential to add another 1-2GW of heat recovery capacity.
Integrated and centralised utilities are often more efficient than individual local systems. This is particularly the case for cogeneration and trigeneration systems that provide larger residential and commercial operations with significant power, heat and cooling needs. Other options for facilities integration include waste heat from data centres used for space heating in commercial buildings.
The process of separating sludge into liquids and solids can be very energy-intensive, particularly on a large scale, such as in wastewater treatment plants. Mechanical dewatering is typically uses one-third of the energy of evaporating and one-tenth of the energy of an industrial dryer. Dewatering can be done using many methods, each having their own benefits. The methods include membrane filters, decanter centrifuges, screw presses, belt press filters and plate and frame filters, to mention just a few.