The untapped potential of sustainable industry insulation
To support the transition to a climate neutral society, the European Union has set itself two ambitious objectives:
- reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030
- be climate neutral by 2050, with zero net CO2 emissions.
This can obviously only be achieved with the support and participation of all key sectors, including industry and energy supply, which account for around 35% of Europe’s primary energy use and 49% of EU emissions.
Although savings potentials may vary between regions and sectors, due to differences in energy consumption, temperature profiles and fuel mix, there is potential in all industrial sectors.
It may seem surprising, but in industry, unlike in construction, insulation is still largely underused. Therefore, the general trend is a low level of energy efficiency for many industrial facilities.
The point is that there are still no regulations to date defining a minimum level of performance for insulation to be installed in European industry.
First of all, the level of insulation applied is most often limited to safety requirements, i.e. defining the maximum surface temperature, condensation prevention, process needs or just a generic maximum density of the heat flow rate.
In addition, the technical specifications of industrial insulation are often outdated and are still based on energy prices and environmental requirements of 10, 20 or even 30 years ago.
Finally, in many cases thermal insulation in industry is poorly maintained and some parts remain uninsulated and create thermal bridges, resulting in excessive heat loss and avoidable CO₂ emissions.
This is partly due to a general lack of information among key decision makers on the great energy saving potential of industrial insulation, but also to a sharing or lack of clarity of responsibilities for decisions relating to maintenance and energy management. In addition to this, insulation represents only a relatively small share of investments, so it is not sufficiently taken into account or specified during the design phase or renovation programs.
Total annual savings potential in EU27
In summary, insulation systems in industry are still too rarely designed on the basis of criteria of profitability over the life of the insulated equipment, and even less in view of criteria of sustainability.
Did you know...?
Industrial insulation can contribute to:
- Cutting CO2 eq. emissions by 40 Mt
- Reducing energy consumption in industry by 14 Mtoe every year - equivalent to the energy consumption of 10 million households.
As you can see, energy efficient insulation systems will help industry reduce CO2 emissions and contribute to meeting EU climate targets. And in addition, they also reduce carbon taxes as well as energy costs for the producer.
Thermal Insulation & Energy efficiency
Thermal insulation plays a key role in energy consumption when we are dealing with fluids at a temperature other than room temperature. When thermal insulation is applied to industrial equipment such as boilers, furnaces, pipes, tanks and vessels, it increases the overall efficiency of the process and at the same time reduces its environmental impact: not only the energy consumption per unit of output is reduced, but also the corresponding greenhouse gas emissions.
Nevertheless, while it might be obvious that improving thermal insulation in industrial facilities directly leads to energy savings and reduced CO2 emissions, the full potential of sustainable insulation in industry is still far from being realised.
We can support this change with the TIPCHECK (Technical Insulation Performance Check) program by providing expert analysis of your current insulation system and helping you identify additional energy-efficient saving potential.
What is TIPCHECK?
TIPCHECK is an energy audit programme for industrial facilities. It was implemented by the European Industrial Insulation Foundation (EiiF), in order to save energy and reduce CO2 emissions thanks to insulation.
Did you know...?
ISOVER is one of the Founding Partners of EiiF, a neutral, non-profit institution, which promotes insulation as a primary method to improve sustainability and profitability. Since its creation in 2009, EiiF has established itself as a resource for industries that need to reduce CO2 emissions and save energy. EiiF provides facts and figures and publishes reports, fact sheets and studies showing that the saving potential of industrial insulation is great and exists in all regions and sectors.
Why perform a TIPCHECK audit?
TIPCHECKs evaluate the insulation systems of existing facilities, planned projects or retrofits and demonstrate how more efficient thermal insulation could:
- Save energy
- Save costs
- Contribute to a cleaner production through reduced CO2 emissions
Experience shows that payback times for insulation investments following TIPCHECK audits are in most only cases 1 to 2 years. In addition, the annual energy savings achieved are often in the range of 200,000 – 400,000 MWh, reducing production costs for TIPCHECK customers by more than 7 million EUR every year.
Beyond identifying and exploiting energy efficiency potentials, the TIPCHECK thermal energy audit can help identify process efficiency improvements and personnel safety risks.
What does a Saint-Gobain TIPCHECK audit process look like?
At Saint-Gobain, we have 13 certified TIPCHECK engineers who can carry out TIPCHECK audits, internally or at our customers. To prepare for an audit, the TIPCHECK engineer will request some initial information concerning the installations to be audited: general and detailed drawings, current insulation specification of the areas to be checked, operating temperature of each zone, process diagram, type of energy used (gas, electricity, etc.), energy price.
The audit will then take place in three stages:
- Field measurements to collect all the data
- Based on the data collected, we draw up an inventory of the actual performance of the installations, taking into account the existing insulation. Then we recommend an optimised insulation system.
- And finally, we deliver to the customer a standardised TIPCHECK report detailing the conclusions of the audit.
Our Spanish colleagues talk about their TIPCHECK experience!
ISOVER Industrial Efficiency Awards
ISOVER Spain has been organizing the ISOVER Industrial Efficiency Awards since 2019. A student competition that aims to involve industrial engineering students in the study of real projects, giving them the opportunity to define solutions to reduce energy costs and the environmental impact of projects, based on the latest energy efficiency and decarbonization technologies.
The success of the previous editions has attracted more interest and awareness among students about energy-saving insulation and reducing emissions. The 2023 edition focused on improving a biomass plant, fostering innovation and environmental responsibility among aspiring engineers.
Towards low carbon energies to decarbonise the energy sector
The decarbonisation of the industry and in particular the energy sector is a crucial step in the fight against climate change and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. One of the keys to achieving this is switching from high-carbon energy sources such as fossil fuels to low-carbon alternatives, such as renewable energies or nuclear power. These alternative methods of generating electricity release limited or no greenhouse gas emissions.
ISOVER offers efficient and innovative insulation solutions for the production of various low-carbon energies, including LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas), solar and nuclear. These insulation solutions play a crucial role in optimising energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring the safe and efficient operation of these energy systems.