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October 2014
Energy Efficiency: Going Beyond Energy Savings
IEA publishes the multiple benefits of Energy Efficiency

According to the results of the latest study published by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the European Union (EU) is not doing enough in order to save energy, guarantee the energy security and protect the environment.

The handbook, entitled Capturing the Multiple Benefits of Energy Efficiency, provides reliable data to confirm that the benefits of energy efficiency go beyond energy savings. Therefore, energy efficiency can also bring other benefits such as economic growth and expansion, social development, sustainable climate protection and greater energy security. Over 300 international experts took part in the roundtables, research and consultation process held to gather input to the publication. The European Industrial Insulation Foundation (EiiF) contributed to the study within the Industrial Productivity chapter.

With regard to this field, the study points out that “industry often views energy as an operational cost; energy savings are perceived as incidental benefits of other investments rather than as a central value-generating proposition. Yet, industrial energy efficiency measures deliver substantial benefits in  addition to energy cost savings – enhancing competitiveness, profitability, production and product quality, and improving the working environment while also reducing costs for  operation and maintenance, and for environmental compliance. Introducing multiple benefits can help to better align energy efficiency with strategic business priorities, thereby strengthening the business case for investment. The value of the productivity and operational benefits derived can be up to 2.5 times (250%) the value of energy savings (depending on the value and context of the investment). Including such productivity outcomes in financial cost assessment frameworks can substantially reduce the payback period for energy efficiency investment, in some cases from four years to one year.”

In this respect, it can be noted that such a quotation suits industrial insulation to a tee:

  •  Saves energy: industrial insulation can help European industry to reduce its annual fuel consumption by 620 PJ (~ the energy consumption of 10 million households).
  • Saves money: insulating bare surfaces to cost-effective levels and repairing damaged insulation in industry EU-wide requires initial investments of about 0.9 billion euros. This one-time investment would represent an energy savings potential of about 460 PJ, which at current prices would save industry 3.5 billion euros every year.
  • Offers rapid paybacks: payback times for the investments are usually less than one year (“invest once, save every year”).
  • Contributes to a cleaner environment through reduced CO2 emissions: industrial insulation would contribute to reduce the annual emissions by 49 million tonnes of CO2 (~ the CO2 emissions of 18 million cars).
  • Improves process efficiency.
  • Brings workplace improvements.
The EU is committed to secure the supply of energy and ensure that energy prices remain stable, urging its Members States to be energy efficient. However, DG Energy has already announced an expected gap of 1–2% regarding its 20% targets. Furthermore, the EU is highly dependent on energy from abroad, importing 53% of all the energy it consumes at a cost of more than one billion euros per day. Figures like these mean that Europe can be vulnerable to external energy shocks. Meanwhile, European industrial facilities are also wasting energy and losing money every minute they are operating.

Industrial insulation could cost-effectively reduce the EU’s energy consumption by 0.5–1% (= 460–620 PJ). Likewise, it could also reduce Europe’s dependency on Russian gas imports by 9–12.5% (100% = 4932 PJ/1370 TWh). Industrial insulation proves once again to be one of the Best Available Technique which can improve the bottom line of businesses while reducing energy consumption and associated emissions, building up competitiveness, maintaining profitability and improving the working environment and the production process.



 
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