In the name of sustainability

According to the Swedish Energy Agency, the bulk of the 2009 United States electrical production came from coal (44.9%), natural gas (23.4%), and nuclear (20.2%), making 88.6% the total production from nonrenewable sources. That same year, the per capita consumption in the United States was a little more than 90,000 kWh, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Averaged over the 8,760 hours in a year, each person in this country is responsible for a steady-state electricity consumption of 10.3 kW every minute of the day and night.

With the population growing, the total consumption will increase to what might be called unsustainable levels, given that most residents don’t want a new coal-fired or nuclear plant to be built anywhere near their residences. The point is that anything you can do in your home or in the plant environment to reduce electricity consumption will have some effect in reducing the total production rate.

For years, electric motor efficiency standards have been tightening and we’ve become accustomed to paying more for motors that remain on the market. Maintenance departments across the country are likely paying much closer attention to the condition of the motors for which they’re responsible. We know that compressor system audits can pay dividends.

Another industrial application that uses a lot of electricity is lighting. One of the current contenders for domination in that field is the compact fluorescent bulb. The numbers clearly indicate the decrease in consumption that accompanies their adoption, by certain human perceptions and emotions argue otherwise, at least in Great Britain. The BBC reports on that phenomenon in “The 60W bulb: A luminary love affair.”

To what extent is your plant retrofitting its lighting systems to something that consumes less electricity?