Reduce industry emissions with 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.
Energy efficient industrial insulation
Thermal insulation plays a 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 industrial insulation is still far from being realised.
The untapped potential of industry insulation
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. As a consequence, companies define their own technical specifications for insulation systems:
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In addition, the technical specifications of industrial insulation are often outdated and are still based on energy prices and environmental requirements of 10, 20 or even 30 years ago.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.
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.
Source: EiiF study 2021
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.
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.
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.
ISOVER, a member of the European Industrial Insulation Foundation
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.
One of their key initiatives is the TIPCHECK Programme. The TIPCHECK (Technical Insulation Performance Check) energy audit is a standardized energy audit tool, compliant with EN 16247 and ISO 500 standards, that evaluates insulation systems of existing facilities, planned projects or retrofits and demonstrates how more efficient insulation could save energy and reduce eq. CO₂. emissions. TIPCHECKs identify the areas with the highest energy saving potential, offering a rapid payback time of two years on average or even less.
Since 2010, around 2,500 TIPCHECK have been carried out by EiiF.