Don’t be penalised by a lack of understanding on CRC

Neil Webster, General Sales Manager at ABB Instrumentation, examines the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme.

So, it’s finally here. The start of April saw the start of the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme, which is set to transform the energy behaviour of at least 20,000 UK organisations.

Companies affected span every industry, from public sector offices through to small to medium industrial and utilities sites. Looking at some of the printed and online coverage already given over to the build-up to the scheme, it’s interesting to see that many of the organisations within the scheme are still unsure as to whether they’re affected or to what degree.

Even more interesting is a general lack of awareness as to what constitutes energy-saving behaviour. A survey carried out by The Prince’s May Day Summit on climate change this time last year revealed that only 12% of the 1,695 respondents saw improvements in industrial processes as a potential area for energy savings. This compares with almost 50% who identified measures such as waste recycling and switching off PCs as major areas where energy could be saved.

It’s clear then that some education is still needed even now that the scheme is underway.

One thing the scheme will almost certainly do is push energy consumption onto the boardroom agenda. With the CRC specifically designed to incentivise those organisations that improve their energy behaviour and penalise those that lag behind, it will pay like never before for companies to have a comprehensive understanding of their energy consumption.

With the first year of the scheme devoted to the measurement and gathering of energy consumption data, now is an ideal time for industrial organisations in particular to get down to the grass roots level and start to measure all aspects of their operations.

Processes that use steam and compressed air in particular, present massive opportunities for improved performance, which can often turn excessive overhead costs into real profits. For example, a 10mm hole in a compressed air distribution line can result in losses of 322kg/hr, equivalent to 23kW, which in turn equates to over £15,000 per year (where electricity costs £0.08 per kWh, compressor efficiency is 65%, operating 8,000 hr/year).

This is where instrumentation comes in. Readers of my comment on climate change may have seen me use this phrase before, but you really cannot manage what you cannot measure. This has never been truer when it comes to the Carbon Reduction Commitment scheme. Put simply, you need to have a starting point before you can work out how to make improvements, as well as a means of making sure that those improvements are working.

Today’s instrumentation equipment is packed with new possibilities for optimising energy efficiency through the highest levels of accuracy.

Using instrumentation to measure and compare between the point of generation and the point of use can often reveal opportunities for significant improvements. These can result from improvements either in the way in which the energy medium is distributed, such as tracing and repairing leakage points, or in the way that the energy is used by a process, such as closer control of cycle times and/or temperatures.

Ultimately, the onus is on organisations to measure, optimise and save. With the CRC offering rewards to those companies with the best carbon and energy reduction performance, it really will pay to understand the contribution that properly instrumenting your process could make to your bottom line.

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