The chemical industry leads the way – Achieving a major competitive edge through energy efficiency
The chemical industry has set itself the target of becoming the most energy-efficient industrial sector. Work is underway in Finland and throughout Europe. Experts representing some thirty companies met at Kemira’s Sastamala plant on 14 January 2014 to discuss ways of developing energy efficiency.
A unique European project
The meeting was part of SPiCE³ (Sectoral Platform in Chemicals for Energy Efficiency Excellence), a Europe-wide project to improve energy efficiency in the chemical industry. Manager Energy and Climate Policy at the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic), Martina Beitke explained how SPiCE³ can support companies in the drive for energy efficiency.
“At the EU level, energy-intensive industries, such as the chemical industry, suffer from expensive energy, which is why production is constantly shifting to countries with cheaper energy. Energy efficiency as a factor of competitiveness is now becoming more important than before.”
There are still many avenues to be explored in energy efficiency. By sharing knowledge, creating networks and developing tools, companies are being made aware of the fact that energy efficiency is a major element of competitiveness.
“SPiCE³ is always alive. The project content – such as the multilingual homepage, networks, training programmes and tools – has long been coming from the companies themselves. The intention is to share information as effectively as possible and thereby get companies to act. In Europe, this is a unique project. It is great to see how companies in Finland have joined in so enthusiastically,” said Beitke.
The benefits of energy efficiency agreements
The Chemical Industry Federation of Finland’s Assistant Director, Sami Nikander explained the legislative decisions directly related to energy efficiency that are currently under deliberation in Finland and Europe.
“For example, it is of central importance that the Industrial Emissions Directive become part of national legislation in the reform of the Finnish Environmental Protection Act (EPA).”
The new energy efficiency clause in the EPA addresses the needs of companies better than was originally expected. Sami Nikander highlighted the importance of voluntary energy efficiency agreements. By committing to agreements, a company “acknowledges” the energy efficiency permit regulations.
“Companies perform best and encounter the smallest amount of bureaucracy when they commit to an agreement system. Companies that do not sign up to a system are then subject to the law. Here too, the best strategy is to act voluntarily. In any case, there will be obligations to improve energy efficiency.”