Home > Feeling the effects of the carbon tax and higher energy costs in general? Energy saving tips from Ferret.com.au

Feeling the effects of the carbon tax and higher energy costs in general? Energy saving tips from Ferret.com.au

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article image With electricity costs on the rise, energy efficiency has become a key concern for manufacturers and other industrial businesses
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Recently, Ferret.com.au 's sister publication Manufacturers' Monthly published an article discussing the results of a series of surveys by the Australian Industry Group undertaken to determine the effect the carbon tax has had on local manufacturers in the first six months since it was introduced.

The article noted the average estimated increase in energy costs reported across the manufacturing sector to be 14.5 per cent, and while there is some speculation that businesses have overestimated the degree to which the carbon tax has increased costs in real terms when compared to the effect of network price increases in the same period, there is no question that manufacturers and industrial businesses in general are facing higher energy costs.

Here, we will look at several products designed with energy efficiency in mind, before providing some tips for retrofitting energy efficient lighting and discussion of a program that aims to help businesses to offset the initial costs and capital expenditure associated with lighting upgrades.

Parker Hannifin's permanent-magnet AC motors
Parker Hannifin has noted that permanent-magnet motors are inherently more efficient than induction motors (typically up to six per cent times), but they are still less common in the industrial world because they used to require a position sensor and a high-end drive.

To this end, the company produces a range of simple AC drives for permanent-magnet motors up to 7kW. Featuring an innovative control algorithm, the AC650S series provides an economical alternative to conventional induction motor technology that is also extremely compact, and can fit easily in small cubicles.

ABB Australia's electric drives
Another supplier of industrial drive systems that takes energy efficiency seriously is ABB Australia. In its annual estimate of the savings achieved by its installed base of drives, the company estimates that around 310 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electric power was saved by ABB drives in 2011.

Representing an increase of 19 percent when compared with the previous year, this amounts to savings of 260 million tons of CO2 emissions if the power is generated by fossil fuels, and electricity cost savings of approximately $34 billion at 2011 US electricity prices.

In addition to supplying brushless and permanent magnet servomotors, ABB stocks a diverse range of motor and generator options, including:

  • low voltage AC motors
  • high voltage induction motors
  • wind power generators
  • synchronous motors
  • traction motors and generators
  • synchronous generators
  • synchronous reluctance motor and drive packages; and
  • IEC DC motors.
ABB notes that energy accounts for 92 to 95 per cent of the life cycle cost of a motor, depending on its size, so an investment in electric drives typically pays back in less than two years.

Polex Environmental Engineering's dust collectors
Modular in design, Polex's current generation dust collectors incorporate high efficiency fans to deliver significant energy savings. Further, the units can be fitted with a VSD (variable speed drive controller) featuring an air flow sensor that will communicate with a Polex control system to lower the fan motor's power usage when one or more slide dampers or blast gates are shut off.

In addition, the collection bins on Polex's dust collectors can also be emptied without requiring a stop in operations, delivering significant savings in labour costs.

Retrofitted energy efficient lighting
Ed Hanna, Director of Sustainability at independent energy management company Energy Action has pointed out that historically industrial and manufacturing plants have been illuminated by mercury vapour and metal halide lights which, by comparison to modern alternatives, are expensive to operate on factory floors.

Any decrease in quality, reliability, safety, or the look and feel of lighting can have a significant bearing on core operations, however the development of induction and LED lighting in recent years provides a real opportunity for businesses to move towards a more efficient lighting strategy.

For manufacturers and industrial businesses looking to retrofit energy efficient lighting, Energy Action has provided five key tips. The company recommends that businesses:

  • examine all options before committing to a technology
  • consider the needs of all stakeholders
  • invest in lighting controls
  • make informed decisions when choosing suppliers; and
  • have light intensity that suits each individual work area’s needs.
To offset the initial costs associated with a lighting retrofit Origin Energy and Low Carbon Australia have introduced a program that enables eligible businesses to implement and finance their energy efficiency projects including lighting upgrades with zero upfront cost, no capital expenditure and a unique Energy Savings Guarantee.

An added benefit of this program is that end-to-end project management is provided, ensuring upgrades are achieved in a timely manner.

Origin Energy offers several solutions for reducing energy consumption and energy cost including: lighting upgrades

  • heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades
  • compressed air systems
  • heat recovery systems; and
  • building control systems.

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