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August 2015
Industry is unnecessarily wasting energy and losing money every minute it is operating

There is no lack of proof but definitely of awareness for the BAT insulation – But who is to blame?

By Andreas Gürtler, EiiF Foundation Director

It is not a secret anymore but still one of the most overlooked opportunities for industry, as well as for the European Union (EU) in general, that industrial insulation is a Best Available Technique offering multiple benefits. The EiiF therefore collected some of the most outstanding third party proof showing that industrial insulation is ready to deliver:


• Competitiveness,
• Rapid Payback,
• Energy Security,
• CO2 Emissions Reduction,
• Energy Efficiency and
• Safety.

The sources range from the EU official Best Available Reference Documents (BREFs) and the Energy Security Strategy of the European Commission to the study of the energy experts from Ecofys, the independent Energy Efficiency Report 2014 from the University of Milano (Politecnico di Milano), the industry magazine Process and the Climate Map of the international energy supplier Vattenfall*. 

Let’s start with COMPETITIVENESS: Already in 2012 Ecofys research and calculations showed that the European energy and cost savings potential of insulating bare surfaces to cost-effective levels and repairing damaged insulation across industrial sectors is 460 PJ. To tap into this potential it is required a one-time investment of €900 million which, at current prices, would reduce industry production costs by €3,5 billion every year.

This gives us an insight into how quick the PAYBACK for investments in industrial insulation can be: The average period of industrial insulation improvements is 1-2 years and it is easy to achieve compared to other Best Available Techniques. It can be even shorter depending on energy prices, energy losses and insulation costs.

But not only industry should jump on the cost-attractive industrial insulation energy savings potential. To achieve ENERGY SECURITY (secure the supply of energy) in the EU any technology has to become a ‘must be’ which is ready to reduce the current and unbelievably high imports of 53% resulting in energy costs for the European Union of €1 billion per day (around 400 billion in 2013). Just taking the insulation contribution, Europe could reduce for example its gas imports from Russia by up to 12,5%. Besides many other good reasons it becomes a very urgent need to tap the entire ‘ready to start’ potentials if we take into consideration that most of this energy is imported from countries without a well-developed democracy. Do we really want to continue to transfer billions of euros every year to those regimes?

At the end of this year in Paris, the United Nations Climate Change Conference will discuss ways to stop the global warming – by the way, June 2015 has been the hottest June ever worldwide. Industrial insulation could reduce very quickly the annual CO2 EMISSIONS by 49 Mt. This potential is equivalent to the emissions of 18 million middle class cars. What are we waiting for?

And what about ENERGY EFFICIENCY? According to the European Commission, “Member States should speed up measures to achieve the 2020 energy efficiency target, focusing on heating and insulation in particular in buildings and industry”. Why? Because it is expected that on current trends, the EU will achieve primary energy savings in 2020 in the range of 18-19%, corresponding to a gap of 20-40 Mtoe relative to the 20% target. The European industrial insulation savings potential could help to close this estimated gap by reducing the entire energy consumption in the EU by more or less the missing 1%.

If these arguments are still not convincing enough, there is still and finally one more to add which is maybe the most important one for industry and industrial workers, SAFETY: In the EU the share of equipment without insulation or with damaged insulation is conservatively estimated to be 10%, 6% and 2% for low- middle- and high-temperature surfaces respectively. Insulation of hot pipes, vessels, flanges or valves avoids hot surfaces and therefore increases safety and improves the working environment.

We strongly believe that now it is time for action. European industry is unnecessarily wasting energy and losing money every minute it is operating. However, before blaming industry and politicians for their lack of awareness and inactivity let’s get up ourselves and fight against it to overcome it.

We therefore ask all our EiiF members, to make TIPCHECK services and engineers one of their highest priority – don’t forget that 3 out of 4 TIPCHECK audits are leading to an insulation investment. It will be our insulation companies to benefit first growing their business whilst delivering Competitiveness, Safety and Rapid Payback to their clients and Energy Savings, Energy Security and CO2 Emissions Reductions to all of us and the planet.

* Sources:

§ "Climate protection with rapid payback”, Ecofys, 2012.


§ Ecofys/Gas in Focus, 2014.


§ Energy Efficiency Report 2014” (Executive Summary), Politecnico di Milano, 2014.


§ European Energy Security Strategy”, European Commission, 2014.


§ Reference Document on Best Available Techniques for Energy Efficiency” (BREF), European Commission, 2009.


§ The Plants New Clothes”, Process Worldwide, 2-2015.


§ Vattenfall’s Climate Map 2030”, 2007.


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