How demand-response is delivering big energy reductions for Saint-Gobain

UK construction material manufacturer Saint-Gobain has made a total saving of £165,000 and experienced an 11% fall in energy demand across its 20 sites in the UK and Ireland, after powering down its factories at peak energy periods.

In collaboration with energy suppler SmartestEnergy, the manufacturing firm’s demand-response initiative focused on reducing the company’s exposure to ‘Triad’ charges, which are levied on large business users based on their electricity consumption over a three and a half-hour period of highest demand on the grid each winter.

Triad periods can increase running costs by as much as 500% at each factory site, according to Saint-Gobain Glass’ engineering manager Michael Dickinson, who reiterated the financial benefits of switching off machinery and rescheduling factory operations for a short period of time from around 4pm to 6pm – the peak time for Triads.

“Although it represents a sizeable proportion of business energy bills, the Triad system is something of a mystery to most people so we wanted to raise awareness across our sites, explain how it works and look at some of the ways we could look to reduce our costs,” Dickinson said.

“As well as reducing our costs and helping maintain our competitiveness, it also ties in well with our aims as a company to minimise our environmental impact and contribute to the economic and social development of the communities we operate in.

“Reducing our peak demand plays a part in helping balance the grid, ensuring the UK’s energy supplies are maintained and reducing the need for more generation capacity to be built.”

Saint-Gobain’s announcement highlights an encouraging sustainability development in the aftermath of a recommendation from an independent sustainable development advisory panel that the company should setting more ambitious targets in the areas of energy and waste.

Sustainable construction

The firm joins fellow building materials supplier Hanson UK in pioneering a demand-response approach to energy management, with the technology being rolled out to 29 of Hanson’s quarries across the country.

This latest announcement also marks another key step in the progress being made within the construction industry towards more sustainable business practices. 

Last week, property developer Berkeley Homes unveiled a new sustainable housing design concept, which outperforms traditional terraced housing by reducing up to 25% off utility bills. The company has also revealed a new two-year plan to deliver a 10% reduction in carbon emissions per person

Meanwhile, Carillion recently added an additional £33.8m to its overall profits thanks to an increased focus on sustainable business practice. And earlier in the year, a new technological innovation received €12m backing from the European Union (EU) in an effort to enable Europe’s cement and lime industries to significantly reduce their environmental footprint through carbon capture and storage (CCS).

George Ogleby

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