Shifting the energy balance with new compressor operating cost model

With the global rise in electricity prices, compressed air energy costs have risen to as much as 91% of the total cost of ownership. Operators urgently need to review the efficiency of their system, according to Graham Read, Product Manager for industrial compressors in Europe at Compair.

For many years, the industry has used a formula to calculate the operating costs of compressed air systems, which is made up of 10 % capital and installation costs, around 8 % maintenance costs and 82 % energy costs, explains Graham Read, Compair.

This breakdown has served many customers well, enabling them to make informed decisions to reduce operating costs, says Graham. This is especially true when considering the investment costs and the potential payback on the investment in an energy-efficient machine.

However, as Graham explains, customers now need to re-evaluate the way they assess their energy costs for compressed air: “The total cost of ownership for a 160 kW compressor has more than doubled in the last ten years.” Graham makes a sample calculation: if a company previously spent 100,000 € on compressed air, around 82,000 € was spent on energy costs. Now it’s 91,000 € – and energy costs have doubled in the last two years alone. “The good news is that there are many powerful, energy-efficient compressors on the market that can help significantly reduce a site’s dependence on electricity,” Graham says and continues:

“While not every site has the capital to invest in a new energy efficient compressor, significant savings can be made by taking the ‘measure, manage and improve’ approach.”

“CompAir offers an air assessment service that looks at all aspects of a compressed air system’s performance, including power and flow data, pressure measurements, leak detection and heat recovery, to name but a few,” he explaines. Accurate measurements are taken using data logging, giving a comprehensive overview of energy performance. Suggestions can then be made for possible retrofits or investments, down to simple optimisations and cost-effective measures such as eliminating leaks, reducing pressure and shutting down compressors when they are not in use.

“The industry is increasingly concerned about the significant rise in electricity prices and many customers are talking to us about how they can future-proof their compressed air system to mitigate further price increases. By understanding how the balance of operating costs has shifted and taking a systems-based approach, customers can achieve a rapid return on their investment.”

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