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Tackling compressed air energy consumption with the new 10% Taskforce

16 March 2022

Rising energy costs continue to hit the headlines and industry is already feeling the impact of higher bills. Vanda Jones outlines the steps the Society is taking to help end users cut electricity consumption from their compressed air, with the launch of its 10% Taskforce campaign.

GENERATING COMPRESSED air can be very energy intensive, representing as much as 30% of a site’s total electricity bill. According to a report entitled ‘Compressed Air Systems in the European Union’, when looking at the most important energy savings techniques available to compressed air users, ‘the energy savings amount to 32.9%, achievable over a 15-year period.’

This includes a range of measures including system installation or renewal and operation and maintenance techniques, such as reducing air leaks and more frequent filter replacement.

However, while both environmental and financial targets are driving operators to reduce their site’s overall electricity bill, many simple energy-saving measures related to their compressed air system can be overlooked.

Introducing the 10% Taskforce
As the UK’s trade body representing compressed air system manufacturers, distributors, and end users, we advise regularly on the numerous ways that customers can improve the efficiency of compressors. However, many operators may feel that this will require significant investment in new capital equipment, when often, taking small, incremental steps can have a significant impact on energy consumption.  

That’s why we have launched the 10% Taskforce - a call for UK businesses to take simple measures to cut their compressed air energy usage figure by 10 per cent, with the potential to save a combined £147.5 million in wasted electricity costs.

Calculating the savings
Using figures from the recent UK Energy-related products policy study, conducted by ICF in May 2021, BCAS calculated the combined energy usage for the mid-point of all industrial compressor technologies over their lifetime at 11.71 TWh.  

Based on the current UK average non-domestic electrical unit cost of £0.1249/kWh , the figures are substantial - equating to £1.475 billion being spent by UK companies to generate the compressed air their businesses rely on. 

Add to this the fact that over 30 per cent of this energy is being wasted through inefficient practices – equivalent to £485.43 million in wasted electricity spend - and there is much that businesses can do to cut this figure significantly.

This can include educating compressed air users on good housekeeping, implementing heat recovery, managing air more efficiently downstream and prioritising maintenance practices to enable better energy performance.

Vanda Jones is executive director at the British Compressed Air Society (BCAS)
For more information:

Simple compressed air energy saving measures:
•    Change behaviours and improve housekeeping
•    Specify correctly
•    Fix leaks
•    Recover heat
•    Design a system
•    Control better
•    Manage air downstream
•    Improve maintenance