Industrial Power Plants

Emerson Innovation Enables Industrial "Powerhouse" Facilities to More Efficiently Operate Regardless of the Fuel Source

Standing in the shadows of many industrial manufacturing or processing facilities is what’s known as a “powerhouse,” a power plant that burns fuel to produce steam or electricity used in the operation.  Often overlooked when manufacturers seek new efficiencies, powerhouses are attracting renewed interest as energy costs rise and governments seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  


Industrial energy use is no small matter.  Industrial facilities, along with agriculture, mining, and construction, consume as much as 50 percent of the world’s total delivered energy.  That’s why governments across the globe are focusing on these facilities as they look to enhance sustainability in the years to come.  For example:

• The European Renewable Energy Directive 20/20/20 seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent and increase the share of renewable fuels in the European Union’s energy mix by 20 percent by the year 2020. 

• China, the world’s largest energy consumer, aims to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent to 45 percent by 2020 and to use non-fossil fuels for about 15 percent of its energy. 

Clearly, industrial companies need ways to efficiently run their facilities while controlling energy costs and meeting government mandates.  Emerson is providing companies the expertise and solutions to meet these goals. 

For example:  Powerhouse superintendents – the people who run the energy-generating facilities – are exploring non-fossil fuel sources for their powerhouses, such as biomass and low-cost waste fuels.  After all, what’s more renewable than a french fry processing plant that’s powered by biogas produced from potato waste?  Or a paper mill turning wood byproducts into energy or biofuel?

According to the International  Energy Outlook 2010 report, renewable energy will grow by 1.8 percent annually to represent 8 percent of total energy use in the industrial sector by 2035.

There’s one problem:  The energy generated by biomass or waste fuels isn’t as predictable or consistent as natural gas or coal.  Fossil fuels burn and release energy quite evenly; it’s relatively simple for powerhouses to manage combustion to generate the steam and power needed to keep a site humming.  Renewable fuels, on the other hand, burn and deliver energy at variable and unpredictable rates.  If this variability isn’t closely monitored and managed, it can result in higher costs, or worse, availability interruptions and costly downtime. 

To help improve the efficiency of industrial powerhouses and meet these new greenhouse emission mandates, Emerson is adding intelligence to the energy-generating process. 

Emerson’s innovative SmartProcess™ Boiler technology delivers expert consulting and advanced equipment that enables real-time combustion control adjustments to address the inconsistent nature of renewable and waste fuel sources, automating and simplifying management of sudden changes in Btu content or the availability of those fuels.  SmartProcess Energy’s sophisticated software runs in real time to balance steam systems, manage demand swings and upsets, identify opportunities to avoid waste, improve efficiency, and allocate load for best cost.

An industry first, Emerson’s innovation gives customers the ability to interchangeably use a number of renewable or waste fuel sources – wood waste, food byproducts, animal waste, or manufacturing byproducts like pet-coke and off-gases – to consistently create steam to power their operations. 

These solutions are enabling Emerson customers to reduce reliance on natural gas, coal, or other fossil fuels, while realizing improved availability, lower energy costs, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.  And, by doing so, these customers are getting ahead of the curve.  As a result, many customers are now operating facilities with as much as 95 percent of energy needs derived from renewable fuels.   And they’re meeting or beating greenhouse gas regulatory requirements years ahead of mandated deadlines.

By adding intelligence to the powerhouse, Emerson is changing the fundamental economics of energy consumption in the industrial sector.  And that’s good news for the bottom line and the environment.

Our commitment to continually combine and advance technology and engineering enables Emerson to produce solutions that provide a competitive advantage for our customers.