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SUSTAINABILITY

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29 January 2015

The environmental and economic benefits of reduced consumption

Cogeneration: the three-for- one energy production system and its benefits for industry.

Industrial production is often accused of being a large-scale consumer of energy, a major producer of CO2 emissions and an enemy of the environment. Industry naturally requires mechanical energy to run equipment, thermal energy to power production processes or to heat work environments, and cooling energy for processes in the cold chain, but in economically challenging times, every opportunity for financial saving is worth taking on board.

Cogeneration provides one such opportunity. From a single energy source, it produces three types of energy: thermal, electrical and cooling. When mechanical or electrical energy is created by means of a thermodynamic process, additional heat is given off, and if it is not captured, then it is wasted. The cogeneration process intercepts this dissipated heat, which can then be used for heating or as a source of energy for certain processes.

Cogeneration has many very evident advantages. The first is financial, since dissipated energy represents a cost. The second is environmental, since maximising the use of energy sources reduces waste and emissions. A further advantage is the support that cogeneration can provide to the electrical grid, particularly at times of peak demand. Finally, industrial implants that use cogeneration enjoy greater energy autonomy and in effect become small-scale producers. The system can lead to savings of over 25% of consumption, considerably cutting gas and electricity bills.

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