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Joining forces

Energy crisis in Europe

There is an energy crisis in Europe. Initiatives to save energy and secure reliable supplies of energy are the order of the day. A challenging task faced by all – and one that BUCHEN and XERVON can help with in a whole variety of ways.

The EU’s gas emergency plan came into force in August 2022 and has made it clear what steps need to be taken: member states should reduce their consumption of gas by 15% by the end of March this year. This is a huge challenge for Germany: it must save a good 10 billion cubic metres of gas if it is to reach this goal. This is, in effect, around one quarter of the total amount of gas that the EU is looking to cut across the whole of the bloc. At the same time, the country’s electricity sector needs to be better organised as gas is still being used to generate power – gas that should, wherever possible, now be used for other purposes.

For months now, Germany has been working hard to find ways to cut energy consumption – as have all European countries. The German manufacturing sector has been doing the same. Besides helping the country as a whole to achieve its gas reduction goals, manufacturers are also doing their best not only to avoid having to shut down production due to a lack of supplies but also to contain costs being driven up by energy prices. Last year, Germany’s industrial sector consumed 44% of the country’s total net electricity supplies and around 36% of its national gas supplies. The industrial production sector is, therefore, a major consumer of both gas and electricity. Which means it is also right at the top of the list of sectors that have to find ways to bring about energy savings, quickly and systematically. The companies did, in fact, manage to reduce their demand for gas by 11% in March and April 2022 alone – almost twice that achieved by private households.

Being an experienced provider of industrial services, BUCHEN and XERVON support their customers to further improve their energy efficiency levels in both their daily business and any upcoming special projects. Both companies offer a wide range of opportunities to exploit energy-savings potential and are able to provide solutions for many different sectors. Besides delivering long-established services, they continue to add further highly specialised tasks to their portfolios to address specific fields of business, such as replacing membranes at electrolysis plants to grow energy efficiency and drawing up innovative concepts to make the most of waste heat.

Saving energy, however, is just one side of the coin. It is equally important to ensure that the energy that is needed is generated in the best possible way – whether it be in an industrial environment or in the energy sector. Both BUCHEN and XERVON have proved to be a valuable partner in this area as well. Both groups, for example, provide a whole range of technical services to help power station operators to increase the availability and efficiency levels of their plants. What’s more, their portfolios cover all kinds of plants – from conventional power stations, to waste-to-energy plants, all the way through to incineration plants and steam generators.

On the hunt for solutions

Energy prices at a record high, Russia cutting off gas exports to Europe, huge uncertainties about supply security: the whole question of energy is a cause for worry – and measures must once again be taken to further improve energy efficiency levels.

And they also include renewable energies. BUCHEN UmweltService, for example, delivers a complete range of services for biogas plants and XERVON Wind helps wind farm operators to optimise the output of their onshore and offshore wind turbines. The services provided for the wind energy sector, however, are not only targeted at achieving the best possible turbine performance and power output. The company is also able to upgrade existing wind turbines and help their customers to install new wind turbines so that they can further increase the amount of electricity they generate.

According to experts, the problems currently being experienced in the energy sector will continue for months, if not years. A forecast that further underlines just how important it will be to continue to mobilise all forces and make the very most of every opportunity that presents itself.

Six options with immediate, tangible benefits

Every effort must be made if we are to get the energy crisis under control. Many possibilities, though, have already been exhausted over the past few years. So does this mean there is no room left to further optimise operations? Not quite. We have drawn up a list of six examples to show what can still be done – all of them services offered by BUCHEN and XERVON.

Reducing heat loss

The European Industrial Insulation Foundation (EiiF) has calculated that European industrial plants could save 14 million tonnes of oil equivalents (Mtoe) by installing high performance insulation. This is equivalent to the annual energy consumption of 10 million EU households. Simply insulating a single standard DN 150/6-inch valve (run at an operating temperature of 150°C) would result in energy savings of 10,600 kilowatt hours every year. XERVON uses thermal imaging technology to perform thermal inspections and discover weak spots in a plant’s insulation. And XERVON’s industrial insulation specialists are able to draw up bespoke and highly effective solutions to minimise heat loss – for all process temperature areas and to meet their customers’ precise requirements. Additional advantages: more stable processes and safer systems.

Reducing energy consumption in compressed air systems

Compressed air is needed for a wide variety of different industrial processes. And it is energy intensive. All the more reason, therefore, to make sure that this air is not leaking out of the pipes. XERVON Instandhaltung detects leaks and exit points using ultrasound equipment – a process that can also be deployed in potentially explosive environments and is considerably faster, simpler and more cost efficient than conventional leak detection systems. Even the smallest leak can lead to a significant fall in pressure and the compressors must use more energy to compensate for this – an unnecessary consumption of energy. The savings potential here is huge: repairing a leak with a diameter of 5mm can reduce annual energy losses by 72,708 kilowatt hours (in a system operated at a pressure of 6 bar).

Achieving greater efficiency levels + an optimised use of fuel

It is important for businesses operating power stations and industrial furnaces to use their fuel as efficiently as possible. Air and gas preheaters play a significant role here. They heat up the fresh air required for the combustion process and then use the flue gases generated in the boiler. As a result, the fuel’s energy is preserved and is not needed to heat up the fresh air. Preheaters, however, have to be cleaned regularly if they are to operate at their best. BUCHEN KraftwerkService has developed a fully automated, computer-controlled system to clean air and gas preheaters that achieves excellent cleaning results in no time at all. This not only means that the heating surfaces can deliver the best possible performance but also that there is less pressure loss and a more effective boiler. And, looking at the power station as a whole, this leads to improved plant availability, an enhanced performance and a greater power output.

Maintaining and growing installed energy output

If Germany’s wind energy plans are to succeed, then the country’s installed onshore wind capacity will have to have doubled and its offshore wind capacity quadrupled by 2030. The number of wind turbines required to achieve this goal, however, cannot simply be set up overnight. What’s more, the grants provided by the EEG [Renewable Energy Sources Act] will soon be coming to end for many of the wind turbines currently in operation – the moment when many of these green energy producers are taken out of service. The Fachagentur Wind [specialist wind agency] has calculated that disconnecting these turbines from the grid could result in around 16 gigawatts of onshore wind power being lost by 2036. XERVON Wind offers alternative solutions here: the company makes existing turbines fit for the future by replacing the large components that have reached the end of their service life, by adapting the technical systems or by carrying out retrofits to improve performance. A service that not only helps grow energy security but also benefits the wind farm operators as, thanks to the higher electricity prices, older turbines can still be run profitably even when their EEG grants run out.

Increasing the production of biogas

Using biogas to generate electricity is an important part of Germany’s energy mix. Around 29 billion kilowatt hours were produced using this sustainable source of energy last year. For years now, BUCHEN UmweltService has been providing services for biogas plants and deploying highly specialised cleaning systems to improve their performance and output. Core services here include emptying and cleaning anaerobic digesters as well as its plate heat exchanger service. Looking ahead, these services will become even more important as the European Commission would like to see biogas production increasing to 35 billion cubic metres by 2030. Were this goal to be reached, then around one-fifth of the gas previously imported by the EU from Russia would be covered by biogas.

Recycling fuels

The best raw materials are those that are already in the country. Even when they have already been used and, in some cases, are contaminated. For example, pyrolysis oil that can be used as a fuel or for heating. Thanks to FILTRATEC’s specialist expertise in the area of automated tank cleaning systems, it is able to mobilise the oil in the tank, extract the dissolved solution in batches and then process and clean the oil on site – without using additives – so that it can be reused. It is also able to empty the tanks and process the oil in potentially explosive environments. The volumes recovered here not only reduce a company’s dependency on imports but also ensures that old fuels are given a new lease of life.

REMONDIS Maintenance & Services GmbH & Co. KG