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‘Thin air’ costing businesses over £100m a year in energy costs

Energy efficiency news - by GreenWise staff
25th January 2012
UK businesses are losing over £100 million a year in energy costs through leaky or inefficient equipment that compresses air, the Carbon Trust has found.
Air compressors
are widely used in the industrial sector and account for around 10 per cent of UK industry’s electricity consumption. But a Carbon Trust report, released today, has found that up to £110 million a year is being wasted in business energy costs because of poorly managed or damaged compressed air systems and processes.

"There is a misconception that compressed air is a free or low cost resource, when – in fact – the opposite is true," Richard Rugg, director, Carbon Trust Programmes, said. "Just a single three millimetre hole in a compressed air system creates a leak, which can cost a business an additional £1,000 a year in electricity costs."

Widespread problem
Far from being a niche problem the Carbon Trust says many industrial businesses – from aircraft manufacturing to water treatment and electronics and engineering – use compressed air in their systems and processes. Its use in industry is equivalent to the annual output of nearly 1.5 power stations and over five million tonnes of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere, according to the Carbon Trust.

Replacing an old air compressor with a new, more versatile one, saved Fox Wire, an independent steel wire manufacturer based in South Yorkshire, 30 per cent on its electricity costs – the equivalent to annual savings of over £6,500 and CO2 savings of 50.5 tonnes. The payback period was less than two years, according to the Carbon Trust.

New guidance
New guidance to help other companies cut their electricity spend on compressed air was launched today by the Carbon Trust.

Rugg said: "Our new guide provides practical and easy to implement advice that will enable businesses to cut their electricity spend on compressed air by up to a third."

The 'Compressed Air Overview' guide is part of the Carbon Trust's 'Expert in Energy' series. 

The not-for-profit company is also running a free webinar on how to significantly reduce running costs and improve the efficiency of compressed air systems at 12pm, 30 January 2012.

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