Benchmarking

Paul has been jointly-prepared Energy Consumption Guides for several UK industries, working with the Sector Trade Body, as well as “benchmarking” the performance of non-UK industrial sectors against International standards – including work in China, Iran and Russia.

These ECGs reviewed consumption patterns across a sector, such as glass containers (ECG27), ferrous foundries (ECG48), or non-ferrous foundries (ECG38), etc, examining:

 

  • Energy split across activities.  Clearly, for high-temperature sectors, the melting and “holding” furnaces are always going to be important.  However, many high-temp industries had surprisingly high utility consumption – compressed air, motors & drives, etc – which also consumed the more expensive electricity.  Generators were often hidden away from the core activities, and suffered from the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality.
    One reason why a lot of the latter programme training was aimed at Utilities and Energy Management was to bridge this “gap”.
  • Consumption across the main consumption centres – focusing on the specific energy consumption (energy per tonne) and where possible comparing broadly similar processes against each other – for example glass melting furnaces.
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  • Identifying sector “norms” and “best practice”.
  • Estimating the sector reduction in energy consumption/ CO2 emissions over a 3-4 year period, by comparing the performance against an earlier exercise.  This was important for justifying Government spend.  Energy savings that had been influenced by the programme far out-weighted the programme spend, often by factors of 20:1.
  • Publishing and disseminating this information, but in a non-attributable manner.

 

 

Selected High-temp ECG findings:

The container sector’s first repeat ECG identified over £10 M of energy savings (plus similar waste-min savings) over the 4-year gap, equivalent to an approx 10% efficiency improvement.

A second repeat survey showed only modest improvements to furnace efficiency (diminishing returns) but substantial improvements to the utilities, plus increased product light-weighting – basically more bottles per tonne of glass.

A repeat survey for ferrous foundries indicated a 13.5% reduction in specific energy consumption between 1990 – 98, brought about by furnace improvements, reduced holding times and improved yield.

Non-ferrous (mainly aluminium) foundries showed 12% improvement between 1992-6.  Many of the improvements were similar to ferrous foundries, but with the added benefit from avoiding irredeemable metal losses – with the higher value (plus higher sequestered energy) metal.

 

 

Despite many of these ECGs now being 10 years old, many are still being used as de-facto benchmarks both in UK and in developing countries.  In a recent visit to an Iranian brick plant, the old Non-Fletton Bricks ECG043 was being used as the “target”.

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Energy benchmarking is often one of the first activities recommended for international programmes.  It was recommended for Liaoning (China) and has been recommended for the Iranian “Big 5” Industry programme.  Not only do these provide total consumption, fuel split and SEC, suitably disaggregated data can help fairly track the energy and CO2 savings of a major programme over time – taking into account changes to the output mix.

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