Reduced energy use can help businesses increase their profit margins. However, the benefits of being energy efficient go beyond monetary advantages to include environmental and other operational rewards. In Luxembourg, state subsidies are available to help companies offset part of the additional expenses associated with environmentally friendly investments. For example, investments linked to energy-efficiency measures, production of renewable energy, reduction of pollutant emissions above standard levels, reduction of water consumption, among others.

Presta Cylinders, a 120-employee family company active in 26 countries and located in Kleinbettingen and a specialist in the routine inspection and repair of metal and composite cylinders, applied for a state subsidy for the renovation of its industrial furnace using refractory materials. Industrial furnaces require efficient insulation materials essential both for safety and for energy efficiency. The refractory materials used help to maintain an optimal temperature and reduce heat loss. Jocelyn Pierrard, Engineer at Presta Cylinders explains that the furnace renovation project was prompted by the company’s commitment to reinforce its maintenance systems and increase energy savings.

The higher your energy expenditures, the lower your ROI and the greater your investment.

In less than six months, the grant application for the project was approved and the project was launched and completed. Mr Pierrard highlights the support of Luxinnovation and Energieagence for the success of the project, which was subsidised by the Ministry of the Economy and also benefited from Enoprimes: subsidies for energy renovation.

What was the renovation project about?

Jocelyn Pierrard: The project entailed renovating our furnace by installing a new insulation composed of refractory materials. We used to have a fibre solution, which meant that our furnace was less insulated and consumed more energy. When we chose to replace the furnace, our service provider gave us two choices. There was another fibre option and then refractories, which are more environmentally friendly and can last longer. In terms of production and maintenance, refractory materials are also a preferable choice. It is not possible to intervene at any time to carry out maintenance work, as our furnace is used 16 hours a day to burn off the paint from the gas cylinders and operates at high temperatures of around 680 degrees. On occasion, we may need to wait over the weekend to begin maintenance services.

We are investigating what we can do to recover as much energy as possible.

However, it was projected that the cost of the fibre solution would be around €140,000 and the cost of the refractories would be about €182,000. Ultimately, we chose the more expensive option involving refractories since it is better for the environment and would result in a furnace that would be more durable over time and with an insulation that would last longer.

Low energy consumption is important to drive down costs for most companies. What prompted this investment by Presta Cylinders and what impact is expected?

Yes, energy costs are skyrocketing, and because we use a lot of gas and electricity for our activities, managing our energy footprint in times of high energy prices and lowering energy use wherever possible is critical. The truth is that the higher your energy expenditures, the lower your ROI and the greater your investment. For the renovation project, we calculated the insulation capacity before and after renovations and the difference was clear in terms of energy-savings. Although currently we may not notice a difference in the first few years, it is clear that the fibre insulation will deteriorate over time whereas refractories will not. This will have an impact on energy usage because even after the fibre insulation has worn out, increasing your energy consumption, refractories will still be efficient. When it comes to maintenance, having a refractory insulation also makes it easier to intervene than having a fibre insulation. We will be able to accurately estimate the impact from maybe the second year onwards.

What support did Luxinnovation provide and how did it help achieve the results you wanted?

Given that we had a solution that was the greener but more expensive, I wondered what kind of assistance we could receive and contacted Luxinnovation, specifically Avit Blanchy, Senior Advisor – Corporate R&D and Innovation Support, who I was already in touch with.

We applied for the subsidy in April 2022 and the grant was approved before the start of the project in July 2022.

We had a lot of support from Luxinnovation during the grant application process. They were acquainted with the scope of the project we were planning to implement and were able to guide us towards the appropriate state subsidies that applies based on the project scope. Mr Blanchy and Caroline Muller, Cluster Manager – Materials & Manufacturing at Luxinnovation, also came to our site to visit our installations and they saw the potential that we had to innovate. Given that we are a small team of five people in my department, for technical studies and so on, having some guidance to undergo grant application processes for new projects like this saves a lot of time and effort. We applied for the subsidy in April 2022 and the grant was approved before the start of the project in July 2022.

Are there any other energy efficiency measures/projects foreseen in the future?

We are actively involved in everything that concerns improving our compressors. We also have a project to install photovoltaic panels. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to respond to the call for proposals earlier this year, but we intend to be more reactive during the next call. It is also planned that Energieagence will carry out an energy audit for us this year.

We are investigating what we can do to recover as much energy as possible. We have a separate project that involves extracting heat from our furnace’s fumes and utilising it for other purposes. We intend to increase our energy efficiency to the greatest extent possible.

Photo: Presta Cylinders

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