Aussie manufacturers encouraged to shift from gas to solar

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Investing in energy efficiency is a great way for Aussie manufacturers to take control of their energy costs, which are hurting their bottom lines. With renewable energy now a cheaper source of power than gas or coal, as confirmed in AEMO’s Integrated System Plan, it is no surprise that Australian gas-intensive manufacturers are advised to turn to clean energy sources.

In a joint initiative, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), the Energy Efficiency Council and the Australian Industry Group have launched Australian Manufacturing: Gas Efficiency Guide, identifying strategies to deliver energy and cost savings across manufacturing operations.

According to the guide, in addition to equipment maintenance improvements, operational optimization, replacement of old equipment and smart redesign to improve industrial process, major results can be achieved through fuel shifting from gas to solar thermal, solar PV, bioenergy and low emissions electricity.

Examining the energy needs of a wide range of manufacturers, from food processors to building materials producers, and identifying areas of opportunity in terms of performance, cost and paybacks, the study showed that with such energy efficiency improvement measures, Australian manufacturers can cut gas consumption for by at least 25%.

In the majority of cases, up front investment costs were $50,000 or less, with the costs recovered within just five years.

In addition, the guide shows how manufacturers can take greater control of energy, and improve workplace safety and comfort, with technologies such as smart meters, energy management systems, and implementing more precise process controls.

“It is no secret that manufacturers are relatively large energy users. The good news is that clean energy solutions can make a very real and positive difference. An initial investment of $50,000 or less can be recovered within just five years, producing lasting benefits for the business,” CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said.

It is also no secret that the industrial sector’s shift to renewable energy is building up momentum across Australia.

With Sun Metals’ 125 MW solar farm at its zinc refinery near Townsville, Queensland, paving the way to a number of major corporate PPAs, such as the Bluescope Steel or Cartlon United Breweries deals, and the launch of a colossal 1 GW renewable energy program by SIMEC Zen Energy at its first of many renewable energy projects planned for South Australian industrial town Whyalla – the 280 MW Cultana Solar Farm, power-intensive industries seem to be sharpening their focus on emissions and cost savings.