Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


EU-MERCI — Result In Brief

Project ID: 693845
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.3.7.
Country: Italy
Domain: Energy

What is the best way for industry to reduce energy costs?

A database on the best ways to save on energy use in specific industries – one of the largest databases of its kind in the world – can help small companies’ energy-saving investment decisions.
What is the best way for industry to reduce energy costs?
EU-funded researchers have brought together a huge volume of data on energy efficiency to help small and medium enterprises make investment decisions to reduce energy use.

SMEs account for around one-third of energy savings potential within the European Union but often do not have the technical expertise or the right information to make appropriate investments, particularly where the payback time can be some years off.

Under the EU-MERCI project, researchers set up a web-portal based on data from thousands of energy-efficiency projects carried out by companies since 2005 with examples of how energy saving can be implemented sector wise. “We studied all the different processes and analysed them with the goal of providing a comprehensive overview of what can be done in a specific industry,” says project coordinator Simone Maggiore of the energy research organisation Ricerca sul Sistema Energetico – RSE spa, based in Milan, Italy.

Information comes from scientific literature, companies and company reports, but the project also conducted surveys within specific industries. The anonymised data is nonetheless very detailed. “It provides all the technical information, how the energy efficiency projects were implemented, what were the relevant components used and the amount saved in terms of efficiency,” Dr Maggiore explains.

It is one of the world’s biggest databases on energy efficiency in industries and includes analysis of around 3 000 energy-saving projects. “From that analysis we developed some 200 ‘good practice’ examples that can be implemented, along with their associated costs,” Dr Maggiore says, adding that the strength of the database is that it is based on real results from projects carried out in the field.

‘Good practice’ rankings

Sector reports look at energy-use intensity at each stage of the industrial process, identifying where savings can be made. “The main challenge was to harmonise data from different countries, as the information was provided in different units,” he explains.

Each ‘good practice’ case is assessed using quantitative key performance indicators developed by the project team to measure efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability and includes technical, economic, environmental and social indicators. These were collated to reach a final grade and ranked to establish the most important ways to improve energy efficiency.

“For each industrial sector it is a different ranking, as each sector has different characteristics,” Dr Maggiore says. “But what it shows is there is still a lot of potential for more energy savings in industries and that stakeholders should try to put them into practice.” The industries covered are aluminium, ammonia, cement, ceramics, petroleum, copper, food and beverage, glass, iron and steel, machinery and paper products; and more areas are being researched.

Facilitating investment decisions with longer payback times

Most SMEs make investment decisions with a payback time of 2–3 years, but if the data can show additional benefits can be gained over a longer period, “then they are more likely to make those additional investments,” Dr Maggiore says.

“Energy savings can be high under specific conditions. The variation is huge across the different industries, but depending on energy prices, savings can be around 5 % in some industries, or up to 50 % for example in the food and beverage industry,” he notes. Food and beverage accounts for just over 10 % of EU industry energy consumption and huge savings can be made through reuse and recycling.

Additional benefits include reductions in emissions and pollution and an increase in competitiveness. “These cannot be given a monetary value, but can be substantial,” Dr Maggiore adds.


EU-MERCI, energy, energy-efficiency, SMEs, cement, food processing, aluminium, ammonia, ceramics, copper, glass, iron, steel, machinery, paper products, petroleum
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