February 27, 2006

New study will estimate NB industry's energy efficiency potential

The New Brunswick government is embarking on two studies whose results will contribute to the development of more effective energy efficiency initiatives.

The $300,000 Industrial Energy Management Study is being conducted in partnership with Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME). It will estimate the economic energy efficiency potential in New Brunswick's industrial and manufacturing sectors, yielding valuable information for industry on the cost-cutting potential of energy efficiency investments. The study will clarify precisely where the best opportunities exist, which will help the government design future energy efficiency programs appropriate for industry.

"Before launching new efficiency programs, we need a measurement of what is out there in terms of systems and types of processes in place a different businesses," Energy Minister Brenda Fowlie explained, adding, "We need to know how we can best help these companies or organizations deal with rising energy prices."

In addition, because most industrial greenhouse gas emissions result from energy use, the results of this study are expected to help industry better understand how it can continue to grow and improve competitiveness while reducing emissions.

The work will be done by the Fredericton consulting firm Neill and Gunter, along with Marbek Resource Consultants, in Ottawa. It will include: a baseline profile of industrial energy use in the province; an energy benchmark profile of industry types; an estimate of the economic potential for energy efficiency; and an estimate of the achievable potential for energy efficiency. Surveys and site visits will be an important part of the study, which is also receiving federal support from Natural Resources Canada and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

The second study is being done by the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation at a cost of $100,000. It will provide similar information for the commercial and residential sectors. Part of this project will also include the development of a set of analytical tools for use in the economic screening of energy efficiency measures, the design of new incentives, and performance tracking to verify the effectiveness of energy efficiency activities.

Both studies should be completed within the next two months.

Energy use survey

In related activities, a survey by Statistics Canada of energy use in the commercial and institutional sectors has found that hotels and restaurants consumed energy at a higher rate than other commercial businesses, institutions and organizations in 2004.

Nationally, the Commercial and Institutional Consumption of Energy survey found that the accommodations and food services sector had the highest gross energy intensity at 2.21 gigajoules per square metre (GJ/m2) in 2004.

The most energy-efficient sector, i.e. that with the lowest gross energy intensity-1.23 GJ/m2-was the offices sector, which includes public administration establishments as well as offices in three industries: financial and insurance; real estate and leasing; and professional, scientific and technical services.

Energy intensity is the total energy consumed in gigajoules by a business, institution or organization, divided by the total floor area of that business, institution or organization. Lower energy intensities are considered more efficient than higher intensities. (The energy content of a 30-litre tank of gasoline equals about one gigajoule.) Gross energy intensity is the total energy consumed by type of business, institution or organization at the national level, divided by the corresponding national total of area in square metres.

Relative differences in gross energy intensity may be explained by the different natures of business conducted by different sectors. The survey notes that sectors with higher energy intensities tend to consist of establishments that operate virtually around the clock, and may also operate large pieces of machinery as part of their normal activities.

Conversely, sectors with lower energy intensities tend to consist of establishments that do not operate beyond core business hours, and have little in the way of machinery other than general office equipment.

StatsCan conducted a similar energy consumption survey for 2003, but coverage was limited to hospitals, universities and colleges. The 2004 survey, which collected data in early 2005, was expanded to include industries in the commercial and institutional sectors. Future versions will allow historical comparisons to better evaluate energy consumption patterns of Canadian businesses, institutions and organizations.

This survey was conducted for Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE). NRCan will use the results to produce an analytical publication which will be available in March 2006 on the OEE Web site, http://nrcan.oee.gc.ca.

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