The industrial sector is unique among end-use sectors in that its energy intensity has declined consistently in recent decades, decreasing 45% from 1977 through 2016. The decline occurred even though the sector’s energy use has fluctuated, its output has almost doubled, and economic activity has risen and fallen with economic cycles.
For all the talk that comes out of Washington, DC, about the importance of American manufacturing, the government does strikingly little about it. There is no Department of Manufacturing, for example. Fortunately, the Department of Energy has the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), which is slated for a 68% cut under the proposed 2018 budget.
Our new research reveals that sales of learning thermostats, a very popular form of intelligent efficiency, are expected to be three times as high this year as they were in 2013. This surge suggests broad future use of technologies that can save dramatic amounts of energy.
Industry has been important to the American economy since the earliest days of our country and the strength of the manufacturing sector is a priority for the US government and members of Congress.
The Department of Energy’s 2017 budget request was released back in February, and is now awaiting congressional approval. The request included $261 million for the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), the part of DOE that focuses on energy use in the manufacturing sector.
This Congress has started out well for industrial energy efficiency. Today, Senator Shaheen (D-NH) introduced the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Act. This new bill joins the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2015 (S. 720), better known as the Portman-Shaheen bill, which was introduced earlier this year.
We’ve heard a lot lately about some large energy-using customers like large factories and retail chains seeking to opt out of energy efficiency programs. But what about the states and utility service territories where these customers are opting-in instead? It’s happening. It turns out that when efficiency programs are done right, customers are clamoring to participate.
Smart manufacturing, the integration of all facets of manufacturing through the use of information and communication technologies (ICT), is set to transform the industrial sector and its use of energy, raw materials, and labor over the next twenty years. Everyone in a company will have the information they need to make informed, data-driven decisions in real-time. Executives will have will have a panoramic view of productivity and managers will have an in depth view of their production costs, including energy.
Any serious effort to acquire energy savings from the manufacturing sector will need to address the needs of small and medium-sized manufacturers. While most industrial energy efficiency programs have first exploited efficiencies of scale by tackling the biggest energy users (quite sensibly), that approach overlooks about half of the manufacturing energy consumption in the United States.