U.S. manufacturing accounted for 11% of GDP in 2011,1 employing close to 12 million workers.2 Companies in the industrial sector spend $94 billion annually3 and consume 5.5 million GWh energy,4 which is 31% of total U.S. power usage.5 While domestic manufacturing is less energy-intensive than that of many other developed countries,6 it is still responsible for 1.5 gigatons of energy-related GHG emissions,7 which is more than a quarter of total U.S. emissions. Simple efficiency upgrades in the industrial sector could curb total U.S. emissions by nearly 10%.8 And cutting industrial energy use by 10% could save companies a combined $10 billion in expenses,9 making American products more competitive overseas.
There are already a lot of options for industrial companies to improve their energy efficiency. But long payback periods on efficiency investments,10 information barriers, and the absence of a clear competitive advantage11 discourage their implementation. Small to mid-sized manufacturers, which account for 90% of the U.S. production industry,12 rarely have the staff or resources to spend time comprehensively analyzing their energy use,13 nor do they have the baseline data necessary to make informed decisions.14 Instead, companies generally have to rely on individual suppliers’ data when making equipment purchasing decisions, which may not be easily comparable between supplier options.15
While other PowerBook Components cover industry-specific improvements, many processes use similar equipment and can benefit from similar efficiency upgrades. Most industrial processes involve equipment such as motors, compressors, or transformers, and high-efficiency options are often available.16 Sensors, smart equipment, and optimizing electricity use could lead to energy savings of 15% to 20%.17 Facility energy managers, usually found only at larger manufacturing facilities,18 can often identify ways to reduce energy usage at any type of industrial facility.19
To get over the obstacles facing efficiency in the industrial sector, a combination of policy approaches is required.