The potential energy savings were revealed by Leslie Morrison, Invest NI chief executive, when he opened the Energy Show in Belfast today, a unique event which attracted almost 50 exhibitors across a broad range of energy conservation technologies.
Mr Morrison said savings of £30 million had been pinpointed by energy consultants during 800 site surveys of companies across Northern Ireland.
“If replicated across all of Northern Ireland’s businesses, total energy savings could amount to £75 million and impact positively on costs. This is an important consideration at this time when industry is anxious about increasing operating costs, for example from insurance premiums and national insurance.
“This approach in Northern Ireland is innovative and is not currently being practised in other UK regions. Under this programme consultants stay with a business until they have not only spotted substantial savings but developed an action plan which when implemented will realise the savings.”
Mr Morrison said Michelin in Ballymena was an excellent example of the programme’s benefits.
“In June 2003, Michelin entered into a partnership agreement with Invest NI and the Carbon Trust. Action Energy consultants provided, free of charge, on site advice on compressed air lighting, boiler management, and motors and drives. As a direct result, Michelin implemented a series of measures that included new lighting, improved pipe lagging, improved controls on their air compressors, and new steam traps.
“In the first year of the partnership the company has achieved energy savings worth around £123,000 and more importantly the investment in each of these projects looks likely to be recovered in less than two years.”
Toughglass in Kilkeel, Mr Morrison said, expected annual savings of around £45,000 from a loan through the Action Energy scheme for new equipment.
“Government policy for creating a low carbon economy requires the doubling of the present rate of energy efficiency improvement. Presently energy remains a peripheral business issue to most organisations even though energy efficiency is a proven means of saving money, reducing operating costs and increasing profits.
“ Businesses are helped to cut energy costs by a number of initiatives including; the Climate Change Levy, Climate Change Agreements, Voluntary Agreements, Enhanced Capital Allowances, Energy Efficiency Best practice and the adherence to statutory legislation such as IPPC or the Building Regulations,” he added.
Mr Morrison said the rewards - substantial savings and increased profits – were considerable and there were also substantial new business opportunities arising from the development of new energy saving products, as well as the promotion of engineering skills and new training to address the present shortfall in experienced personnel.