Stef Lievens Discusses the Next Big Energy Efficiency Opportunity

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Stef Lievens, Business Line Manager at Atlas Copco, recently spoke about the “next big thing” in terms of energy efficiency. As it’s a subject that’s so close to home for us, and as we supply a range of Atlas Copco products ourselves, we’ve summarised what he’s had to say on the matter. For a more detailed account, and to read Lievens’ thoughts in their original form, head over to the Atlas Copco website.

Stef Lievens, Business Line Manager - Atlas Copco Compressors
Stef Lievens, Business Line Manager – Atlas Copco Compressors

A number of recent government schemes (for example, the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme), have prompted a change of direction from a number of UK manufacturers when it comes to their environmental policies. Effective ways of reducing companies’ energy bills is, seemingly, more important than ever; as a result, a range of businesses are now delving further into the matter than they ever have done.

Multiple companies have already explored the benefits of installing LED lighting for the reduction of carbon emissions, but it’s time for businesses to seek opportunities to improve their energy efficiency in other areas. One of these opportunities presents itself in the form of compressed air: a technology that’s been successful for numerous businesses in a range of different industries. Compressed air plays a significant role in everyday life, and this point is often forgotten – it’s estimated to account for 10% of all the energy used in industry, so it makes sense that it should be put to use by anyone seeking to reduce their carbon footprint.

VSD+ compressor.jpg

Variable Speed Drive technology is one area that has seen significant development in recent years. A new range of VSD+ air compressors were brought out back in 2013, which now allow compressors to operate at different speeds, depending on how taxing the task it’s performing is. There is still room, however, for improvement. It is estimated that even greater savings (up to 50% for standard units and 15% for VSD ones) are possible.

It doesn’t take long to identify potential areas for savings in compressed air systems. With that in mind, detailed energy reports are superb at identifying potential energy leaks. Identifying these leaks could make a huge difference to overall profits at the end of any year; a 3mm leak could end up costing upward of £700 every year.

An image of two people carrying out an Atlas Copco energy audit

Jar of money saving.pngFunds are so often an issue when it comes to upgrading technology and processes, and that’s not exactly surprising. Replacing machines of any kind is almost never cheap or easy, so it’s incredibly useful that there are a number of funding schemes existing, which help manufacturers to afford more energy-efficient technologies. For example, Carbon Trust’s Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) scheme (PPS is a carbon Trust Approved supplier so we can help you apply for this), and the government’s Energy Technology List (ETL) both let businesses claim 100% back in first year capital allowance (as long as that business pays income or corporation tax, and the product’s listed on the ETL list).

Numerous local authorities have schemes, too, providing grants for energy-efficient machinery. initiatives such as those in Derbyshire and Worcestershire have been running for some time now.