February 26, 2007

Increased energy efficiency could save New Brunswick industry $250-500M by 2020

New Brunswick's industrial sector could realistically reduce its energy use by 5 to 14%, resulting in cumulative savings from $250 to $500 million by 2020, a new energy efficiency study has found. A 13% drop in energy consumption is equivalent to the output of a 300-megawatt power plant.

The $300,000 study examined the province's main industry sectors: pulp and paper, mining, smelting, petroleum products, food and beverage, wood products, sawmills and manufacturing. The work included site visits to 30 industrial plants, whose combined use represents 60% of industrial energy use in New Brunswick.

The report specifies the most potentially effective measures companies could carry out to achieve efficiencies. It says the two most significant opportunities for energy savings by 2020 lie in pumps and boilers: improvements to each of these could yield savings between 30 and 33%. Other notable opportunities for energy savings exist in upgrades to motors, compressors, fans and blowers, and control systems.

The government-funded study was initiated by the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) and carried out by the consulting firms of Neil and Gunter and Marbek Resources. The federal and provincial governments supported the study, through Natural Resources Canada, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and the New Brunswick Department of Energy..

Energy Minister Jack Keir was pleased that the study was able to quantify the level of energy efficiency potential in the industrial sector. A potential energy reduction of 5 to 13% is in line with the 7% projected growth in industrial energy use, which indicates that it is possible to meet increased energy demand with energy efficiency.

Fuel substitution offers a further opportunity for energy and environmental benefits. The study projects that the use of hog fuel as a substitute for fuel oil will increase from approximately 10% of total consumption to between 12 and 15%, taking almost full advantage of the economic potential opportunity. By 2020, says the report, this increased use of hog fuel could result in a corresponding decrease in the use of fuel oil ranging from 1.2 million to 2.4 million gigajoules.

"We not only want the province to be self-sufficient within 20 years, we also want to be leaders in energy efficiency," Keir said. "By working together with the business sector and addressing energy use, it will go a long way towards meeting both of those key goals. A more energy-efficient New Brunswick will improve the environment, lower energy costs, create jobs, and improve the competitiveness of our industries," he added.

Keir said the government was wasting no time in taking action in response to the study's findings. Efficiency NB is already working with industry to find the best ways to help the province's large industrial companies to maximize their energy efficiency benefits by exploring opportunities to reduce current levels of consumption.

"By far one of the biggest challenges to the corporate sector is increased energy costs," said David Plante, vice-president of the CME's New Brunswick division. "We are very pleased to be working with our partners to see what can be done proactively to address those challenges in the years ahead."

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