Keywords: Energy efficiency, Best Practice.
As the Century draws to an end and governments around the world are tackling the issues of climate change and global warming, following on from the Kyoto Summit in 1997, it is sometimes easy to think that this has nothing to do with everyday business practices. But in reality it has everything to do with all companies large or small – if energy is used, energy can be saved. Working in partnership with the chemical industry, the UK Government is building on several years experience of encouraging companies to reduce energy use.
Since the 1970s, when the oil crisis loomed, companies have been made painfully aware of the varying cost of energy. With the advent of the EC Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive, UK legislation, in the form of the Pollution Prevention and Control Act, will be in place and new installations must comply after 31 October 1999; and all plants must be IPPC compliant by 2007. All chemicals plants will also be subject to the Climate Change Levy. By instituting an environmental management system, which includes energy use, companies can begin to address the issue of energy efficiency. The Environmental Technology Best Practice Programme (ETBPP), jointly funded by the DTI and the DETR, and the DETR funded Energy Efficiency Best Practice Programme (EEBPP) can help with free advice and on-site visits to identify where a company’s energy saving opportunities lie. At the end of the day, saving energy is not only good for the planet but is good for the country and definitely good for UK business.
The chemical industry is the largest industrial user of primary energy both globally and in the UK. In 1993, the chemical industry spent £1.5 billion on energy. As part of that wider picture, the energy bill accounts for £100 million, in the UK fertiliser industry, which produces nearly £1 billion of sales per annum. This sector is a fairly heavy user of energy and differs from other chemical companies in that energy accounts for about up to 16% of total production costs, as opposed to a generally expected figure of 5%. Chemical companies are known to be fairly efficient users of energy, but fertiliser companies, with their higher rate of use, have a greater potential for savings. Indeed, an estimated 20% of energy savings could be made.
The UK chemical industry has a thrifty history, in the thirty years spanning 1960 and 1990, energy consumption fell by 60% during a period when output doubled. Since 1990, further savings of 10% have been achieved, mainly through improvements in technology.
Mike S Morrell and John J B Ward, Energy Technology Support Group (ETSU), Harwell, UK