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Manufacturers not seeing the light

28 February 2012

Industry and manufacturing operations in the UK can save £1.4 billion a year on their energy spend and save 10 million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually according to a new paper released by Vita Energia.

This saving is enabled by the replacement or refurbishment of legacy lighting systems by more energy efficient alternatives, which can be funded by financing options from the Carbon Trust Implementation Services and Siemens Financial Services. Many old lighting systems have not been upgraded since the 1950s and are not nearly as efficient as modern T5 fluorescent solutions. Even recently-installed lighting systems, just a few years old, can reap similar benefits.

Over a four-year period (2007-2011) Vita Energia conducted in-depth, on-site surveys to study the industrial (non-office) lighting at over 500 companies employing over 100 people in the UK’s manufacturing and warehousing sector. The results showed that industrial lighting energy usage can be cut by an average of 58.6 per cent. This reduction is achieved by upgrading the fittings with specially designed reflectors to increase luminance output and install lower wattage, high efficiency lamps and ballasts.

“There is continual concern that the UK’s manufacturing industry is unfairly disadvantaged by low-cost labour overseas. Yet it wastes £1.4 billion a year because companies haven’t kept a fundamental service like lighting up-to-date,” said Duncan Stevens, director at Vita Energia. “This is a proven saving for our pressurised manufacturing industry, with an average return on investment time of under 15 months.”

There are several initiatives in place to support organisations looking to reduce their carbon emissions. The Carbon Trust Implementation Services and Siemens Financial Services offer businesses a range of leases, loans and other financing options from £1000 upwards with no maximum to all types of organisations.

“There is an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality within the industrial and manufacturing sectors,” said Andrew Hoy, director at Vita Energia. “However, what many don’t seem to realise is that the investment cost to upgrade a lighting system is modest and these could afford 58.6 per cent reduction in energy usage. In cases of businesses running 24/7, return on investment is nearly always less than a year. There has to be less negative fatalism and more positive action.”

Many manufacturers have already upgraded their lighting systems to reduce energy spend and consumption. Arla Foods, one of Europe's largest dairy companies, implemented a lighting efficiency initiative at its Oakthorpe and Hatfield sites. Arla is now saving around £100,000 in electricity bills and 1.4million kWh in total power reduction every year. This equates to a saving 700 tonnes of CO² emissions, with the project paying for itself in just ten months.

Reducing energy costs is the primary driver for upgrading or retrofitting industrial lighting systems. There is increasing pressure to adopt and demonstrate environmentally sustainable operations. Therefore, companies are looking to save money and lower their carbon emissions more than ever.


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