The use of renewable energy is a big area for industries across the world, with the need for efficient technologies to produce less wasteful ways to produce consumer materials becoming increasingly paramount. We’re all used to the sight of wind turbines, solar panels and renewable forests, but where does the manufacturing sector stand on using renewable energy sources?
Energy Intensive Industries
Three of the most energy intensive industries are bulk chemical, mining and refining, with vast amounts of electricity being used to operate a number of essential systems including HVAC, heavy equipment and basic lighting across different areas of a plant. With some raw materials such as rubber requiring heating to 179-198°C (355-390°F), this type of intensive heating places a huge ecological (and monetary) burden on manufacturing companies.
Whilst fossil fuel energy sources are effective, they are not ecologically friendly, so new technologies such as wind and solar panels have become increasingly attractive. Even tidal power(hydropower) is slowly coming into its own, with massive future potential for electricity generation. TEXO Group announced only last week that they will be constructing Orbital Marine Power’s first commercial tidal turbine at the Port of Dundee in Scotland.
Utilising renewable energy sources also helps manufacturers to futureproof against rising fossil fuel prices, especially as these become more in demand as resources slowly deplete.
- Electric vehicle pioneer Tesla have vowed to power their “Gigafactory” via 100% renewable energy sources by the end of this year. So far, they are said to be on track, with this self-sustaining facility using a combination of wind turbines, rooftop solar and Tesla’s own Powerpacks for energy storage. Gigafactory 1 in Nevada, USA, will be at the time of opening the largest building in the world in terms of land mass, spread over a plot of land covering 15m square feet (that’s 3x bigger than Central Park!)
- Leading consumer goods corporation Procter & Gamble plan to power all of their North American facilities with 100% wind power, and to date purchase 80% of the electricity generated by a wind farm located in Cooke County, TX. They have stated that iconic brands from their American line up including Tide and Dawn are made with 100% wind power.
- Intel are the US’s largest purchaser of green power and have held this spot for a number of years; in 2015 they met their target of 100% of US manufacturing with renewable energy, purchasing 3.4 billion kilowatt-hours of renewable power from a wide range of sources including biomass and solar.