Energy-Intensive Midwest Manufacturing Needs Efficiency Shot, Report Finds

by | Feb 29, 2012

Midwest states tend to be heavy on manufacturing but light on energy efficiency programs, according to the World Resource Institute’s Midwest Manufacturing Snapshot: Energy Use and Efficiency.

In the Midwest, which accounts for 22 percent of the U.S. population but 30 percent of the country’s manufacturing value-added activity, the report found that there is significant room for energy improvements. The Midwest’s primary metals, food processing and vehicle manufacturing sectors are 59 percent, 45 percent and 32 percent more energy intensive that the U.S. national averages, WRI said.

Within Midwest manufacturing, energy-intensive subsectors – such as primary metals, food processing, petroleum and coal refineries, and chemical manufacturing – contribute significantly to total regional fuel use, the report said.

The WRI said manufacturers in the Midwest should take advantage of government financial and technical assistance, especially coordinated, cross-agency programs like the Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The report also recommends a systemic approach to energy management, using the ISO 50001 certification.

The region should consider new energy resources, since increased regulation is likely to affect its coal- and oil-fired plants, the WRI said. These boilers are more than eight years older than the national average.

The Midwest’s use of combined heat and power varies widely from state to state, but it is generally lower than the national average, WRI said.

According to the report, average energy expenditures for U.S. manufacturing as a whole represent less than 2 percent of total costs. But the share of costs can range from 6 percent to 16 percent for more energy-intensive industries, the report said.

With this in mind, the report suggests that the region shows good opportunity to recoup investment in industrial energy efficiency programs.

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