In 2012 Solid Wood Innovation (SWI) was successful in securing funding support from EECA for the “5% energy savings challenge”. The objective of the ’challenge’ was to work with wood processing companies to achieve a saving of 5% of their current energy -equating to cost savings of around $5.5 million pa.
The concept was to get energy specialists alongside wood processors, develop energy savings targets/plans which companies would implement and to set up benchmarking systems for companies to use in comparing their performance/efficiencies. In the first instance this programme has been focused on SWI shareholders but the intention has always been to make the outcomes of the project known to all wood processors in NZ so that they may also consider taking on the challenge.
The achievements to date have been significant for both the electrical savings and heat savings.
- SWI companies have achieved around 38% of the electrical savings target (of 3 GWh) and around 80% of the heat savings target (of 23 GWh).
- Further savings of electrical energy are already identified which, when completed, will hit 70% of the target- but at this stage although some further heat savings opportunities have been identified they have not yet been quantified.
The energy savings, depending upon how the numbers are worked, amount to nearly $1 million p.a. (note that the heat savings are turned into additional plant throughput).
The energy savings project, which is managed for SWI by Tim Armstrong of East Harbour Energy (EHE), is continuing as there are still identifiable savings yet to be achieved amongst SWI shareholders. As agreed with EECA at the outset the benefits of the project would be made known to the wider industry and this will be done via a series of published case studies. SWI shareholder Nelson Forests has agreed to be the first of these case studies.
Successfully saving energy in wood processing requires an in depth knowledge of the various processing steps and ensuring energy ‘experts’ involved with the development of energy savings plans are fully aware of these steps. The SWI project has (1) shown where the best gains can be made and (2) enabled energy specialists to become fully familiar with wood processing systems.
Companies who are not shareholders in SWI can approach SWI or EHE to learn more about the specifics of the 5% energy savings challenge and to make contact with the energy savings specialists who now have good experience on processing sites. Some of the companies in the project have received funding from EECA to help implement specific projects, other companies can approach EECA for funding support to implement identified savings opportunities and SWI or EHE can advise on the process.