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Friday | 07 October, 2011 | 10:57 am

Energy savings

By Julie Sammarco

Making a few adjustments is helping one company save $40,000 annually

October 2011—The industrial sector accounts for 51 percent of the world’s energy consumption. That number is far above commercial (7 percent), residential (14 percent) and transportation (27 percent), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. 

Running leaner companies often encounter challenges to cut consumption and costs both efficiently and seamlessly. Doing that and helping reduce environmental harm is an added challenge that Almetals Inc., Wixom, Mich., decided to undertake in December 2010. 

Almetals installed 74 Suntech 270 watt poly-crystalline solar panels at its corporate headquarters in Wixom. The solar panel system will supply approximately 20 percent of the company’s energy requirements and will further reduce its carbon output.

“We’re saving close to 40 million watts of usage per year, which is substantial,” says James Chain, president of Almetals. “In dollars, that means approximately $40,000 in energy savings each year. And that represents about a five-year payback.”

Almetals equipment can process more than 200 million pounds of slit coil annually, which gives the company a substantial opportunity to save. When Chain was researching the best ways for his company to save money, he came across an article that stood out. 

“I read a statement that was cited by Home Power magazine, and it stated: ‘The amount of sunshine energy that hits the surface of the Earth every minute is greater than the total amount of energy that the world's human population consumes in a year,’” said Chain in a press release. “We thought that if we could tap even an ounce of the sun’s energy, think of how much further ahead we would be. At Almetals, we collectively decided to walk the talk and do our part to conserve energy.”

Multiple changes
Along with installing solar panels, Almetals also has replaced the facility’s lighting with T5 lighting fixtures,  which require less energy than traditional lighting. The company also started a recycling program. 

Initially, the principle reason for creating this kind of energy savings program within the company was to combat the rising cost of energy. “But helping us reduce our carbon output makes it even better,” says Chain. 

“We’ve seen quite a cost savings from changing our lighting. We started recycling all our magazines, paper, cans, which adds up. We sell and process material that is primarily recyclable, so it makes sense for us to recycle  that, as well. We’ve got an energy program that we’re developing and trying to do our part to reduce our carbon footprint. We’re looking to reduce our overall energy costs,” says Chain.

With the savings Almetals accumulates, it plans to invest in additional technologies to continue saving energy and reducing its environmental affect. “We’re continually looking for ways to improve this program,” says Chain. “We want to reduce our costs to run our business.” Future plans include a similar savings program to be put in place at its Atlanta location. 

To track and monitor Almetals’ and other companies’ carbon output and savings, visit www.solectria.com. MM

 

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