Meeting emissions targets

Published:  07 January, 2008

Meeting emissions targets


PWE looks at how meeting emissions targets can help to reduce costs too.


'Carbon Footprint' is the amount of carbon dioxide (CO²) produced directly and indirectly by an individual, company or process over a given time and is measured in tonnes per annum.

CO² is a 'green-house gas" and a major contributor to global warming. Greenhouse gases let the radiated heat from the sun reach the planet's surface and then prevent the absorbed heat from escaping.

At the current level of more than 280ppm, the concentration of CO² in the atmosphere is the highest it has been for more than 1 million years, possibly more than 30 million years.

Although it is currently rising by approximately 2ppm per annum some experts predict a critical level of 400ppm CO² being reached in less than 10 years and at this level the planet"s mechanisms feed into the process taking a solution out of our hands.

As part of the Kyoto Treaty that was ratified in February 2005 the world’s leading industrial nations, excluding the USA, agreed to reduce CO² emissions by an average of 5.2% between 2008-2012 compared to 1990 levels. Special arrangements were agreed for China and Australia.

A government white paper ‘Meeting the Energy Challenge’ published earlier this year sets out how the UK will meet its commitments for reducing CO² emissions made under the Kyoto Treaty.  A mandatory ‘Cap and Trade’ scheme will be introduced for organisations with high energy usage.  ‘Cap and Trade’ schemes set individual capped values for CO² emissions; if the capped value is exceeded then credits have to be purchased from either brokers or other organisations that have improved their performance and stayed beneath their capped value.  These organisations account for about 10% of the UK’s total CO² emissions and include manufacturing companies with industrial boilers. They will have to declare their Carbon Footprints and make additional efforts to reduce their CO² output.

Business as a whole contributes approximately 40% of the UK’s total of 648m tonnes of CO² emission each year. Wasted energy and poor energy efficiency costs an estimated £2bn each year and this significantly contributes to the UK’s ‘Carbon Footprint’.


Reducing energy consumption

Options for reducing energy consumption are numerous and a visit to to review the ETL list of approved energy saving products provides plenty of approved methods.

Most energy is produced by burning fossil fuels with resultant high CO² emissions. A 10% efficiency improvement or reduction in waste in the production or use of energy gives a corresponding 10% reduction in emissions. 

The threat to the planet, legislative pressure and its associated financial ‘forfeit’ and the opportunity to reduce operating costs is motivating industry and commerce to seek and apply energy saving solutions.  One such way to reduce emissions is to upgrade the controls on industrial burner/boiler plant; This is a relatively low cost, yet effective, option giving typical emissions/fuel reductions greater than 5% and paybacks of two to three years.

An average industrial boiler producing steam or hot water for heating or process has a carbon footprint in excess of 16,000 tonnes of CO² per annum.

Upgrading or specifying the latest electronic combustion control for industrial burners will provide a short pay-back route to reducing energy costs and emissions; this equipment improves combustion efficiency and more significantly reduces waste by better control or utilisation of the boiler plant.  Geoff Skinner, sales and support manger of Energy Technology & Control Ltd. says that the controls industry is playing a part in reducing emissions. He estimates that the global installed base of electronic burner controls is already saving more than 50 million tonnes of CO² emissions per annum and that there are more burners without these controls than there are with them meaning that there are for many more opportunities to upgrade and to reduce emissions and fuel consumption.



FIG1: Potential CO² emission reductions and fuel savings achieved from the installation of electronic combustion control on your burner/boiler:

·                    Up to 5% better utilisation from boiler sequence control.

·                    Up to 10% waste avoidance from increased turndown.

·                    A typical 1% efficiency improvement from precise and repeatable control.

·                    A typical 3.5% efficiency improvement from oxygen trim.

·                    Up to 10% waste avoidance from Setback option.

·                    80% electricity efficiency improvement by using VSD control on the air fan.



A single electronic integrated combustion control has the functions necessary to maximise all of the benefits in fig1. CO² savings are dependant on existing control arrangements and the application of the boiler and will differ from site to site.  However, it is unlikely that the combined reductions from the installation of a new control will be more than 10%.

Additional benefits from updating your burner control include improved safety, reduced maintenance downtime as well as the ability to interface to modern Building Management Systems and data communications via the worldwide web.


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