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Are we entering a new era for industrial heat?

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£500 million.

That’s how much Government estimates could be saved from industrial sector energy bills through its proposed Industrial Heat Recovery Support Programme. Industrial heat recovery saves money, supporting business competitiveness; it also reduces carbon emissions and helps bring benefits to local communities through the export of heat through heat networks.

Industry has known about the potential for the recovery and recycling of heat for many years.

The Arla Foods milk processing facility near Aylesbury uses an innovative system designed and delivered by Edina. Two CHP engines are fuelled by a mix of natural gas and biogas generated through anaerobic digestion of waste products from the dairy’s processes. As well as using the power generated by the CHPs on site, most of the heat produced is captured and used in pasteurisation, homogenisation and for cleaning circuits.

At the Janssen Pharmaceutical plant in Cork, Finning CHP plant was installed to provide greater resilience and to reduce energy costs. As well as using power on site, the CHP generates heat in two ways. Exhaust gases are used to evaporate condensate return water to generate steam, whilst heat exchangers harvest heat from the engine water jacket circuit to produce low temperature hot water. These are both then used in industrial processes within the plant.

Despite the success stories, there are practical, commercial and organisational barriers to the development of heat recovery projects (and these are something that the new support programme should aim to address).  Identifying sources of waste heat and integrating them with existing systems can be a technical challenge. Capital is constrained, with many competing priorities for investment, all of which need to demonstrate returns in timescales that are attractive to industry. And many organisations lack the skills to develop and deliver these opportunities.

The Royal Mint is facing up to many of these challenges as  it strives to improve the efficiency of a range of highly energy-intensive processes. Electricity is itslargest energy expenditure, so it is considering using either CHP or a hydrogen generator for electricity and capturing the waste heat for space heating or for use in production processes. The Royal Mint is thinking more broadly: waste heat from smelting furnaces and other processes could also be captured for re-use. There are concerns, however: how to ensure that back-up heat is available whilst managing maintenance and repair costs; whether natural gas provides sufficient future-proofing for decarbonisation; how to capture waste heat and not simply add to the problem; and – a crucial challenge - how to create the time to assess the options in detail.

Reducing risk, unlocking capital investment and helping build knowledge and capacity among industrial organisations will be key to the success of heat recovery schemes. The support provided by BEIS for local authority-led heat networks in recent years has set a template for how Government can work with communities to deliver significant infrastructure projects; the hope is that the new Industrial Heat Recovery Support Programme will help to unlock similar potential within our manufacturing sector.

It’s a good news story for industry and manufacturing in a time of uncertainty. We’ll be talking more about the industrial sector at Heat and Decentralised Energy 2017. We’ll explore the importance of leadership in bringing forward the transformational projects that will build industrial competitiveness by cutting costs, maximising energy productivity and reducing the sector’s environmental impacts.

Join us on Thursday 30 November at The Crystal in London for Heat and Decentralised Energy 2017. You can book your place at http://www.heatconference.co.uk/booknow

Heat and Decentralised Energy 2017 is sponsored by Siemens and Exxon Mobil, and supported by EDF Energy, Centrica Business Solutions, Clarke Energy, Pinnacle Power, Rehau and SAV Systems.

 

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