Barriers to industrial energy efficiency in foundries: a European comparison
2012 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, Vol. 40, 161-176 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
According to recent studies, the 20% European improvement in energy efficiency will not be achieved with current trends, even with the adoption of present policies to reduce primary energy use. This is due to the existence of several barriers that hinder the adoption of the energy-efficient technologies and practices. A relevant contribution to improved energy efficiency could come from the industrial sector, due to its relevance on total energy use. This study therefore addresses barriers within the European foundry industry, a major industrial energy user and a strategic player for the European economy. The research investigates the barriers to energy efficiency at 65 foundries, several of them small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), highlighting the critical problems and difficulties by evaluating the socio-technical frameworks against which the barriers have been categorized. Findings show that the greatest perceived barriers are the perception of the lack of resources to be devoted to improving energy efficiency, and the existence of other priorities such as the importance of guaranteeing business continuity. The study has also performed a preliminary analysis of the factors that might affect the perception of barriers. In particular, looking at size, smaller enterprises show a greater perception of the barriers than larger ones, mainly due to several organizational issues, but with effect on behavioural ones, that tend to downgrade energy efficiency to a peripheral issue. The study has also highlighted differences by type of alloy characterizing foundries, taken as proxy of the process complexity. Indeed, enterprises with simpler production processes tend to perceive higher barriers to energy efficiency, showing the need to identify effective means to promote energy efficiency among those enterprises. Moreover, the analysis has pointed out that performing energy audits brings more awareness to the enterprises, highlighting the effective existing difficulties in improving their energy efficiency. This result seems to be relevant since it shows the need for the research to analyze the awareness to energy efficiency in greater depth and develop the most effective policies to increase it at industrial level. Finally when looking at the country in which foundries operate, German enterprises tend to suffer from the barriers far less than the average, whilst a totally different behaviour can be observed for Swedish ones. These preliminary findings open the research to investigate in greater depth the factors leading to a different perception of barriers, and also the domestic policies that have led to those results. Moreover, the study opens to investigate which means, i.e. drivers, might be more effectively exploited at European level to promote industrial energy efficiency.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2012. Vol. 40, 161-176 p.
Economics and Business Energy Engineering
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-86548DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2012.08.040ISI: 000312173200020OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-86548DiVA: diva2:578726