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Blog: Wasted energy - the next big recycling opportunity?

Date: 3/06/2014 | Author: Paul West

Image for Blog: Wasted energy - the next big recycling opportunity?Paul West from Minimise Energy looks at why recycling facilities will need to consider their energy use under new Government rules

This month the Department for Energy and Climate Change will announce details of its long awaited Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS).

Under the ESOS programme all large enterprises in the UK will, by law, have to undertake an energy audit which will then have to be repeated every four years. Businesses that have more than 250 employees or an annual turnover of more than €50 million (£40.7 million), will need to comply.

It’s a fact that many energy intensive operations, regardless of size, are inefficient in terms of energy consumption and are unaware of the opportunities that exist to recycle this resource. The opportunities for improvement are huge – and the benefits that can be derived in terms of operational efficiency are even bigger.

For recyclers and reprocessors, reducing operational costs while lessening the impact of power price spikes can be the difference between profit and loss. And there’s so much more that facilities managers and procurement teams can do over and above switching power sources or types.

For large 24/7 materials recycling and reprocessing plants with extensive, washing, drying, granulation and separation lines through to smaller waste collection and transfer stations with a sort line and balers, an audit is the just the starting point. It will provide a benchmark of energy use from which to identify and evaluate improvement costs and impacts.

Instigating a means of continuous energy monitoring, however, is more effective. Smart monitoring enables an organisation to understand its energy use at a granular level, providing real-time data on individual unit energy efficiency to facilitate ongoing improvement programmes.

Rather than viewing the ESOS scheme as an unwelcome means of complying with EU energy legislation, the UK recycling sector should instead think of this as a timely (and regular) reminder of the positive benefits that accrue from steps that can be taken to reduce energy use and cut energy costs.

The resource benefits are clear for both UK plc and the individual organisation. Cutting unnecessary energy waste is essential to reduce the strain on creaking energy infrastructure. Initial figures suggest that the net benefit of this policy in the period 2015 to 2030 to the UK will be around £1.9 billion. This is based on a conservative calculation that only 6 per cent of potential energy savings identified will be implemented. In fact it is anticipated that the ESOS programme will identify energy cost savings of more than £31 billion.

That’s a lot of wasted opportunity, capital and unnecessary emissions.

Evidence from The Carbon Trust suggests that three out of every five cost-effective, technically-viable energy efficiency recommendations go unimplemented. On this basis it’s fair to assume that while some organisations are putting in place excellent energy efficiency initiatives, a significant number are not.

The message is clear: an audit alone is not enough. So where do you start to look for retro-fit energy efficiency solutions? And how can an organisation go about recycling its energy?

First consider the European Union’s Environmental Technologies Verification scheme (Tritech ETV). Funded by the EU's Life Environment Programme, this validates the performance of green-based technologies. It’s also a good idea to approach the Carbon Trust as approved systems qualify for financial support under the Energy Efficiency Finance Scheme (EEFS).

An example of a solution from Minimise that complies with both the EU ETV scheme and is available under the EEFS is the imoptm (Induction Motor Optimisation Panel).

The imoptm allows you to optimise the power factor of plant and equipment that uses induction motors by removing the reactive element of the current being drawn. This reduces losses within the electrical circuit from the equipment all the way back to the meter, directly reducing the equipment’s power consumption, running costs and carbon emissions.

As a direct result, the efficiency and lifespan of both the electrical infrastructure and the motors is increased in devices such as compressors, pumps, heaters, refrigeration, and manufacturing plant.

What makes the Minimise imoptm unique is the way we determine how to optimise each inductive load to maximum efficiency through our diagnostic sizing kit.
Our experience and testing has proved that applying power factor optimisation at the terminals (load end) of equipment realises savings of up to 25 per cent dependent on the types of motors, their running times, efficiency and loading.
Correctly sized, the Minimise imoptm will deliver a guaranteed return on investment in less than three years, and will make a permanent contribution to your energy efficiency.

Paul West is managing director of Minimise Energy

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