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Building a More Efficient Industrial Supply Chain

November 7, 2011 - 3:06pm

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This infographic highlights some of the ways businesses can save money at each step of the energy supply chain. Many companies can identify low-cost ways to reduce energy costs in electricity generation, electricity transmission, industrial processes, product delivery, and retail sales.

This infographic highlights some of the ways businesses can save money at each step of the energy supply chain. Many companies can identify low-cost ways to reduce energy costs in electricity generation, electricity transmission, industrial processes, product delivery, and retail sales.

This infographic highlights some of the ways businesses can save money at each step of the energy supply chain. Many companies can identify low-cost ways to reduce energy costs by an average of 8%, enough to impact their profit margins.   

Electricity Generation: There are many ways to invest in improved power plant efficiency.  For example, a workshop sponsored by the Energy Department’s National Energy Technology Laboratory estimated that coal-fired power plants could improve their total operating efficiency from 32.5 percent to 35.8 percent.  Three percent might not seem like much, but that would save 150 million metric tons of carbon emissions a year.
 
Electricity Transmission: A report from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), finds that improved transmission efficiency is achievable through the implementation of a number of smart grid technologies.
 
Industrial Processes: “Industrial processes” covers a broad range of activities, and the opportunities for increased efficiency are equally numerous.  One of the most promising is waste heat recovery, sometimes referred to as combined-heat-and-power.  Using the waste heat from industrial processes to heat buildings or create electricity can dramatically reduce the amount of energy consumed by a factory. According to this 2006 Energy Department study, 12 to 25 percent of the energy lost as waste heat could be put to use generating electricity.  
 
Product Delivery: The Energy Department-sponsored SuperTruck program is still in development, but it aims to produce a heavy-duty truck that consumes 50 percent less fuel than current models. These trucks comprise four percent of on-road vehicles, but account for 20 percent of the fuel consumption, so improving their fuel efficiency will greatly reduce the amount of fuel required by the transportation sector.
 
Retailer: The final step in the supply chain is the retailer. Many commercial buildings would benefit from investment in weatherization and energy efficiency. One example comes from JC Penny, who partnered with the Energy Department’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to explore ways to save energy at a store in Virginia. They found that the store was able to reduce energy consumption by 45 percent, demonstrating the potential payoff of investment in commercial energy efficiency improvements.
 
This is only a small selection of the opportunities for improving efficiency across the energy supply chain, and much more on this topic is found on Energy.gov’s energy efficiency page.

 

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