Energy Audits

Energy Audits save money and the environment

As the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining. This couldn’t be truer when talking about the current spike in energy prices from an environmental point of view. In fact, you could even say that the silver linings greatly outnumber the clouds. Because now, investing in energy saving measures means that they pay for themselves in next to no time. Energy Audits are an easy way for clients to gain an overview of all the energy savings potential in their facilities and also allow them to take action quickly and efficiently.

Let’s look at a few examples: In one industrial facility, insulating one manual DN150 shutoff valve that is warmed up to temperatures of over 200 degrees saves at least 2,000 Euros in energy costs per year.

If you consider the cost of the insulation material and the price of fitting, it can pay for itself in around a month. The annual energy saving of 15,630 kWh is roughly the same as the consumption of a typical German household and there are often hundreds of such valves in any one industrial facility.

In another facility, insulating the roof of a 70°C storage tank with mineral wool would save 110 MWh of energy and 22 tonnes of CO­­₂ per year. Energy cost savings of 15,600 Euros at an insulation cost of just 3,900 Euros means that it would be paid for in just four months. Over ten years, that works out to savings of 130,000 Euros – for only one tank roof.

These are just a few, relatively small components in facilities that can have thousands of uninsulated pipes, valves, roofs, walls, tanks and containers. The larger the facility gets, the greater the savings.

There has always been potential for energy savings at large industrial facilities, especially those that were built many years ago, when energy costs and environmental concerns weren’t as much of an issue. However, the current spike in energy prices has particularly focussed minds. “I have some clients that spend 4,000 Euros on energy per hour,” explains Heino Gustävel, Technical Support Engineer and energy audit Guru at KAEFER Corporate Innovation and Technical Excellence (CIE).

Uninsulated fittings
Uninsulated fittings thermography

Uninsulated fittings (temperature: 162 °C) in a food producing plant. The energy audit revealed a savings potential of 730 MWh/a and 150 tons CO­­₂ per year for the whole plant with a return on investment period of less than a month. Total investment in insulation approx. €5,000 with energy savings equal €77,000 per year.

“For them and many others, saving simply makes sense, especially if you also count the costs of CO­­₂ certificates, which have increased from around 10 Euros per tonne to over 85.” Large companies will be obligated to publish their carbon footprint, which puts them under even more pressure to reduce emissions wherever possible. However, the primary driver at the moment is the cost of energy, which has increased by several multiples in many sectors. “Statistics exist about how much efficiency potential there is in industry,” Gustävel adds.

“If industrial insulation is done to a certain standard everywhere insulation is possible, there is gigantic potential for savings. According to EiiF studies, we could save up to 80% on plant components. There are so many pipes and containers that were insulated decades ago to a different standard, and we can now do it much better.”

If you consider the scale and complexity of some industrial facilities, it can be a challenge to identify all of the places where efficiencies can be found. Fortunately, the specialists that perform KAEFER Energy Audits are trained in taking thermographic images, measuring temperatures and compiling complete documentation.

This is then calculated with bespoke KAEFER WTB software that shows exactly how many watts per metre are lost, for example. The really clever part of this proprietary tool is the ability to suggest a specific insulation measure and its associated cost, so that the client can immediately see not just what can be done, but how long it will take until the investment has paid off. Clients can pick and choose which measures to implement immediately and which to perform later, giving them a complete overview and transparency of all the associated costs.

KAEFER’s own Thermo Technical Calculation software (WTB) can check specified properties of insulation structures and calculate insulation thicknesses to meet customer requirements. This concerns both occupational safety (protection against contact) and technical and economic requirements, such as condensation prevention and limitation of heat losses. The data then comes together with calculations for energy and CO­­₂ savings, as well as operating costs. CIE support engineers can help with on-site thermographic inspections, as well as calculations end reports.

Uninsulated valves
Uninsulated vales thermography

Uninsulated valves (temperature: 135 °C) and other equipment in a refinery. The energy audit revealed a savings potential of 1.300 MWh and 270 tons CO­­₂ per year for the inspected area with a return on investment period of just 0.3 years. Total investment in insulation approx. €45,400 with energy savings equal €169,000 per year.

“Regardless of where we work, there’s always potential,” says Mike Schulz, Project Manager at KAEFER Industrie in Hamburg, Germany. “There’s actually almost nowhere we cannot save energy, but it also needs to be understood that it’s not as simple as just replacing an incandescent lightbulb with an LED. KAEFER Energy Auditors perform a very specialised service.”

Believe it or not, one of the biggest challenges for one of KAEFER’s clients, who is Energy & Environmental Manager at a large industrial company in the food sector in Germany, is credibility. “It’s almost as if it’s too good to be true,” he says. “An insulator makes an offer where many thousands of Euros in costs can be recouped after just six months. And every day after that it’s pure profit. Many colleagues and people I work with ask themselves why they never did this before.” In this client’s opinion, insulation is chronically underestimated as an energy saving measure. “Quite honestly, it’s low hanging fruit,” he explains. “A few years ago, CO­­₂ didn’t cost much, and energy was comparatively cheap as well. On top of that, insulation isn’t necessarily mission critical – a facility will still keep going even if the insulation isn’t there.

But I’ve seen how much of a difference insulation can make in terms of costs and emissions and I’m totally sold on the idea. Many people simply don’t see how much money is disappearing in front of their eyes.”

KAEFER’s Energy Audits help clients like these to raise awareness of the role of insulation. “If I have a thermal picture of a valve that’s red hot and an associated figure for the money that’s literally being wasted and the way it can be saved, it’s much easier to sell to management. It’s a win-win scenario,” he says. These Energy Audits make insulation and energy use tangible and also highlight how simple the savings can be made. “Insulating three tanks needs one contractor for scaffolding and one for insulation,” the client says. “KAEFER can provide me with that, and it makes my life a whole lot easier.”

Saving money with insulation is about as close to a no-brainer as you can get in the current energy climate. The fact that it also contributes greatly towards sustainability and helps the environment is the icing on the cake.

Contact our global expert

Heino Gustävel

Corporate Innovation & Technical Excellence