Industrial Energy Efficiency

Hornsby Heights sewerage treatment plant.

At the time of this project, total energy consumption for Australia is 3,000 petajoules a year at an estimated to cost A$40 billion annually. Industrial energy consumption is 40%, giving an energy bill of A$16 billion per year.

Although many firms now achieve impressive returns by using energy more efficiently, numerous studies continue to uncover significant potential. Experience in Australia and overseas has demonstrated that it is possible to save ten to15 percent of this over a five year program. This would result in reduced costs of up to A$2 billion annually, strengthening Australian industry and making it more competitive in world markets. The Australian aluminium industry leads the world and has set best practice benchmarks since the early 1980s.


The Warren Centre initiated the Industrial Energy Efficiency project to build on the 1990 Energy Management project. It had two key aims to demonstrate further to Australian industry, business and the wider community the financial value of energy efficiency through practical examples in a wide range of industries; and to show how savings could be achieved by applying inexpensive, cost justified techniques that did not require large capital investment.

The project identified a potential 12 percent reduction in energy demand at Hornsby Heights sewerage treatment plant. Images courtesy: Sydney Water and Skycam Pty Ltd.


The project, which ran from 1997 through to 1999, succeeded in demonstrating high potential for energy savings. It was built on five case studies, each of which highlighted techniques for increasing energy efficiency and which could be applied widely throughout Australian industry. More than thirty participants, mainly practising engineers, were involved in the case studies. In addition, a separate Policy Issues Working Group, comprising representatives from government, energy providers, energy users and the consulting community, examined broader policy issues.

Across the five case studies the project team identified around sixty opportunities for energy savings. Nearly a third of the opportunities related to better measurement and control, and a further quarter called for improvements to operational procedures. These twin themes of better measurement and better operation emerged time and again throughout the project.

The table on the next page lists the extent of savings identified in the case studies. In over 50 percent of the cases, realising the benefits required improvements in measurement, control and reporting of energy use. Some required only simple changes to operating and maintenance procedures, without any capital expenditure.


Participant Energy Savings*(Per Year Reduction in Energy Demand
Vales Point Power Station auxiliaries $400,000 NA
Holden foundry $130,000 25%
Incitec ammonia plant $2,000,000 gas
$5,000,000 steam
Pasminco ore concentrators $260,000 5%
Sydney Water sewerage treatment plant  $17,000 12%
* Case study savings calculated on gas at $5 /GJ and electricity at $60/MWHr. Vales Point study used $12/MWHr.



Federal and State Governments, as well as Australian industry, were already undertaking many successful activities aimed at reducing industrial energy use, and the project’s Policy Issues Working Group strongly supported it. Having demonstrated the potential value of improved energy efficiency, the Industrial Energy Efficiency project recommended:

  • A common assessment standard for energy management performance should be adopted nationally
  • Quantitative indicators of energy efficiency should be developed, coordinated and managed at a national level and be widely promoted, as their use would drive competitive companies towards greater savings
  • Opportunities to further coordinate industrial energy efficiency activities should be investigated
  • A national register of energy efficiency training courses should be established to significantly increase training uptake
  • All energy efficiency initiatives, programs and services should be promoted through a single web site and the site itself should be actively promoted as the entry point for all who seek information
  • The establishment of Australian energy end use data and analysis centres should be considered

A major achievement of this project was that it reinforced the reasons why energy efficiency made economic and  environmental sense. And it highlighted the need for energy efficiency to be adopted if Australian industry was to improve.

Hornsby Heights sewerage treatment plant.



  • The impact of this warren centre project continued to unfold. While the project case studies showed potential savings of $8 million per year, they did so in a limited time scale simply to demonstrate what could be achieved.
  • The Energy Efficiency Best Practice (EEBP) program  of the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Technology and Resources has undertaken to monitor progress of the case studies’ outcomes and the Department’s Centre for the Analysis and Dissemination of Demonstrated Energy Technologies (CADDET) has undertaken to report on these outcomes.

Click herefor a summary of the project.
Click here for more detailed project information.

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