Industry’s reliance on fossil fuels for power, heat and feedstock makes it hard to see how the sector can reach pressing climate goals. However, new research shows it can cut a massive 11% of global carbon emissions by 2030 – relying on mature technology. Mike Umiker, Managing Director of the Energy Efficiency Movement, explains.
The Case for Industrial Energy Efficiency, published in October, lists ten actions that industrial leaders can implement today to reduce carbon emissions and, if combined industry-wide on a global basis, could cut global greenhouse gas emissions by roughly four gigatonnes at the end of the decade.
Four gigatonnes is roughly equivalent to taking three-fifths of all the world’s internal combustion engine vehicles off the road. And these are mid-range figures – at the top end, the savings could amount to around 5.3 gigatonnes or 15% of total carbon emissions by 2030.
Best of all, the actions involved in achieving these carbon savings may require some capital expenditure but, in many cases, will almost be self-funding thanks to the financial benefits they yield.
The research suggests global industry-wide savings could amount to $437bn a year by 2030, or perhaps even more since not all the actions presented are susceptible to financial modelling.
The figures come from original research commissioned by the Energy Efficiency Movement (EEM), a forum of almost 400 industrial stakeholders, including global leaders such as Accenture, DHL and Tata Steel, seeking to create a more energy efficient world.
This latest research builds on the Industrial Energy Efficiency Playbook published by the EEM last year.
The IEA has long recognised the value of efficiency in meeting climate targets and reducing carbon emissions, labelling it ‘the first fuel’ and calling for a doubling of global efficiency-related measures to help cut almost a third of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Apart from the tremendous power that the actions could have in enabling decarbonisation and reducing costs, a major attraction of energy efficiency measures is they can be introduced immediately, with little or no need for disruption of industrial processes.
Take the first two actions: auditing operations for energy efficiency and making sure machines are the right size for the jobs they do. Such actions are so fundamental they should form part of business-as-usual in most industrial businesses, but the fact that audits can still find energy use and cost savings of up to 40% indicates this is not the case.
Other actions are similarly straightforward. Action three, for example, involves connecting industrial assets to the Internet of Things – something many companies are doing already for operational reasons.
The modelling commissioned by the EEM suggests this could deliver up to $259bn in savings worldwide by 2030, while helping reduce the emissions associated with the electricity use of connected assets by up to 22%.
Action four, meanwhile, relates to using more efficient motors, which again is something many organisations may be looking at already. Motors are classified according to international efficiency or IE standards that range from 1 to 5, and the differences between them are significant. Moving from IE4 to IE5, for instance, can cut power losses by 20%.
What emerges from the new research is that industrial players have a vast resource available today for emissions and financial savings – but are not yet using it to their full advantage. Because of this, the guide calls for board-level sponsorship and a strategic approach to energy efficiency, treating it like any other transformational project. This is particularly important since the actions span a range of functional areas, from fleet management to data hosting.
The division of energy efficiency potential into organisational silos could explain why its true benefits are overlooked, but the research lays bare the true value of a more holistic approach. It is important, too, to note that energy efficiency is a gift that keeps giving.
Although the impact of the actions in the research was only modelled up until 2030, their benefits could continue until long afterwards. Indeed, in some cases – such as the electrification of corporate fleets – the biggest impacts could occur sometime after 2030, albeit that significant gains can already be achieved today.
Mike Umiker is the Managing Director of the Energy Efficiency Movement, a forum that brings together like-minded stakeholders to innovate and act for a more energy efficient world. Through innovation, the sharing of knowledge and insights, adoption of available energy efficient technologies, smart investments and the right regulations and incentives, the EEM aspires to optimise energy efficiency and accelerate progress toward a decarbonised future.
To find out about the ten actions, including three that can deliver around 70% of the carbon efficiency benefit available up to 2030, visit www.energyefficiencymovement.com now for your free copy of the research.
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