by Keith Wyatt, Honorary Adviser on Environmental Issues to the UK Warehousing Association and Commercial Director at Premium Lighting Solutions

Picture of Keith Wyatt.
Keith Wyatt.

Companies within the plastics sector will no doubt have noted the recent energy saving assessments being proposed by the UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change. Under these guidelines, enterprises will be required to identify ways to invest in energy efficiency, helping reduce energy bills and increase competitiveness. 

Proposals that encourage energy saving within the industry are a welcome measure. Plastic associations such as the AEA Energy and Environment (ETSU) and the British Plastic Federation (BPF) have commented that “in order to survive, companies need to carefully investigate areas of cost savings. Companies with energy costs significantly in excess of industry averages will find survival increasingly difficult.”

The incentives to reduce energy usage are clear; money is saved and corporation reputation is enhanced.

"The cheapest form of energy is
the energy that you don’t use."

The UK can significantly cut energy costs by simply reducing the amount of energy consumed. The Climate Minister himself recently claimed: “The cheapest form of energy is the energy that you don’t use.”

Misconceptions

UK plc has great potential to reduce the amount of energy it uses. If industry made the very simple switch from traditional factory lighting to energy-efficient lighting it has been estimated that Drax power station – the UK's single largest emitter of carbon dioxide – could be closed.

Nevertheless, the media, businesses and public all continue to perceive energy efficiency projects as compromising; whether that is light levels, light quality or performance.

This is not the case, and these misconceptions are partly driven by bad experience with poor technologies. Many sales organisations have sold LED technologies purely on the basis of energy saving without any consideration of lux levels, shadowing, glare, colour rendering and colour temperature, end of life costs, etc.

Overcoming these misguided beliefs can only be reached through a combination of improved case studies and more detailed information associated with the rewards of better efficiency.

A case study

One company in the UK that has made impressive energy savings through improved lighting solutions is Eurocell plc.

Eurocell plc has established a proud reputation for its precision extrusion capabilities and PVC-U product innovations. The company operates from a purpose-built 80,000 ft2 extrusion and tool-making facility, with more than 260,000 ft2 of stockholding capacity, employing around 1,000 people nationwide. Since prioritising energy saving, the company has managed to reduce its annual lighting costs by an impressive 67% saving £13,209 in annual electricity and maintenance expenditure.

Eurocell plc engaged Premium Lighting Solutions to assess how its existing lighting could be improved. An intensive audit of the production facility highlighted some key areas for energy efficiency savings. Not only was the quality of light very poor, but the maintenance costs were mounting as lamp failures occurred on a regular basis. PLS installed 60 intelligent luminaires, which have dramatically improved light levels and energy usage.

Mike Keen, Engineering Manager at Eurocell says: “The entire process of purchasing, delivering and installing our new lighting was easy and efficient. I’m really happy with the final product.”

Investment in energy efficient lighting has led to long term gains for Eurocell plc, serving as a great example to others in the industry sector. Common areas where energy is wasted are often where the biggest savings are possible. For companies interested in investing in energy efficient lighting projects, a comprehensive energy audit is essential. This will enable you to assess your individual requirements and match those with the ideal lighting model. ♦