The type of production technology may have a decisive influence on the energy consumption in the manufacture of a product. Selecting adapted production technologies contributes to the minimization of energy demand. The objective is to analyze the energy consumption of the individual stages of production and, on the basis of this knowledge, to make manufacture of the product as effective as possible. This aspect should be taken into account when deciding for or against a certain production technology. In most cases, there are standard values for the energy equivalent of individual production stages (e.g. plastic processing).
In addition to using energy efficient technologies an optimized process design also contributes to a reduction of energy consumption, which, in turn, reduces the environmental impact caused by the generation of energy provided for the production process. Savings can be realized through constant monitoring and optimization of the process parameters (e.g. temperature, quantity of auxiliary material used, etc.) by means of computerized process control.
With a view to a sustainable energy supply the use of renewable energy resources such as solar energy, biomass, hydroelectric power, wind energy, and geothermal energy is imperative. However, in this context one has to keep in mind that these natural resources must not be over-used as they are renewable only within the scope of their natural regenerative ability. Therefore, the issue of energy efficiency is an important factor in the context of renewables. Similarly, the environmental impact caused by the utilization of renewable energy sources must not be neglected.
The utilization of renewable energy sources is closely related to the utilization of regionally available energy resources. Thus, the use of regionally available biomass reduces hauling distances and, as a consequence, the consumption of fossil energy sources for the transportation of biomass.
An important prerequisite for the reduction of the overall energy consumption of a production site consists in the analysis of energy flows and the concomitant costs. This will yield an assessment of the savings potential, which may serve as a basis for targeted measures. These will largely depend on the type and amount of energy required. One possible approach to a reduction of the overall energy consumption consists in cascading the utilization of heat at different temperature levels, another one in using combined heat and power plants (CHP) for the generation of heat and electricity. By re-using waste heat as process heat efficiency levels of more than 80% may be realized.
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