Bilfinger Magazine: Energy efficiency - small steps with a huge impact

12.10.2021

There are a lot of ways for industrial companies to become more climate-friendly and climate-neutral over the long term. The cheapest, simplest and most obvious approach is to increase your energy efficiency.

If energy is not used, there are no costs and there are no emissions. Saving energy must therefore be a top priority. “Unfortunately, however, this is not always the case”, says Mark Courage, Director of Engineering at Bilfinger Tebodin in the Netherlands: “We often see operators of industrial plants looking hard at ways to use new technologies to reduce CO2 emissions –- but they overlook the many possibilities there are to increase energy efficiency.”  

New technologies for energy generation and utilization receive a great deal of attention from the general public and are intensively discussed in the media and at conferences. “This is, generally speaking, also a welcome development”, says Courage. “But energy efficiency measures provide many advantages over new technologies: they achieve considerable impact with relatively little effort, can be implemented much faster in most cases, are proven and necessitate far fewer changes in existing infrastructure.”

There is potential in every plant

Courage also notes that many plant operators assume their plants are already highly energy-efficient or that they are too individual to benefit from efficiency solutions commonly available on the market. More often than not, however, these assumptions turn out to be wrong. “Our experience shows that with the right measure, significant amounts of energy can be saved in almost any industrial plant”, Courage says. “There are a number of levers and possibilities for adjustment, and every year a range of innovations and product enhancements appear on the market that allow energy to be used even more efficiently.”

OUR EXPERIENCE SHOWS THAT WITH THE RIGHT MEASURE, SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF ENERGY CAN BE SAVED IN ALMOST ANY INDUSTRIAL PLANT.” 

Powerful analysis methods

There is also a considerable amount of energy-saving potential in optimizing the refrigeration and heat coupling in a plant. “The so-called pinch analysis has been shown to be effective here – our quick-scan pinch approach in particular”, explains Courage. “This approach not only evaluates the cooling and heating flows of a process, but also determines the theoretical ideal state of the plant. Based on the results obtained, even more powerful concepts for optimizing refrigeration and heat coupling can be developed.”

The global goal of dramatically reducing CO<sub>2</sub> emissions has led to a significant number of innovations and processes now being developed every year to increase energy efficiency. “Operators of industrial plants can quickly lose track of suitable and forward-looking solutions,” says Courage. “This makes it all the more important to work with partners who systematically analyze the market, embrace a comprehensive approach and also have a detailed understanding of the processes in industrial plants.”