Why be energy efficient?
Process heating and steam production are significant sources of energy use for Australian industrial companies and some commercial sub-sectors. For example, on a typical industrial site, boilers can account for 20–60% of energy costs and represent up to 35% of all potential energy efficiency improvements.1 Process heating and steam systems require large amounts of energy and can easily decline in energy efficiency because system losses are often difficult to measure or observe.
Energy use in process heating systems can be reduced by lowering demand for heating services, improving the efficiency of heat production, heat containment and improved heat transfer, and by recovering heat for reuse. Improved maintenance and management, such as using sensors and controls, can also help optimise performance. These measures reduce energy costs while increasing resilience to energy supply failure and providing improved workplace comfort.
For information on types of process heat and steam systems, see Technology background – Process heat, boilers and steam systems.
Opportunities for process heating and steam service energy efficiency span a wide range of activities in four key areas:
- Amcor Fibre Packaging Plant Scoresby 2009 (Opens in a new window)
Amcor invested in its steam system by improving combustion controls, modulating burners, and adding a variable speed air supply as well as a flash steam heat recovery system. This provided a simple payback period of 3.8 years, saving 6% of total site gas use.
- Princes Laundry Preston 2009 (Opens in a new window)
Princes Laundry used waste heat recovery from gas-fired driers to save 33% of their gas use with a payback period of 5.3 years. At 2009 gas prices, this represented a saving of around $17,500 per annum.
- Murray Goulburn Rochester Dairy Processors (Opens in a new window)
- Department of Resources, Energy & Tourism
- PDF 163 KB
Through the Energy Efficiency Best Practice program, Murray Goulburn Rochester Dairy Processors identified several ways to improve energy efficiency in boilers and steam systems in their plants.
- Dow Chemical Company 2007 (Opens in a new window)
- US Department of Energy
- PDF 550 KB
An energy assessment of Dow Chemical’s St. Charles Operations petrochemical plant in Louisiana, resulted in energy savings worth $1.9 million annually with a payback of 1.5 months.
- Steam and High Temperature Hot Water Boilers: Technology Overview 2012
This technology overview introduces the main energy saving opportunities for steam and high temperature hot water boilers and demonstrates how simple actions save energy, cut costs and increase profit margins.
Note, this publication is free to access, but users must register first.
- Energy Efficiency Best Practice Guide: Steam, Hot Water and Process Heating Systems 2009 (Opens in a new window)
A comprehensive step-by-step guide to improving energy efficiency and achieving best practice in boilers, steam systems, hot water systems and process heating.
- Boiler Optimisation 2006
Optimising the performance of a boiler and its associated steam distribution system reduces running costs and improves site operations. This section of the Sustainability Victoria website contains detailed information about different boiler applications, optimising boiler performance and efficient steam systems.
For more resources, see Resources – Process Heat, Boilers and Steam Systems.