The compound benefits of energy efficiency are adding up with each passing year. These benefits are as much about the cost of production as about the environment. While the global demand for energy services used in production process has risen up infinitely, it is the steps taken by the global community with regard to employment of energy efficient methods that have pushed the world towards doing more with less wastage of precious resources. The new efficiency improvement methods in sectors like textile are a boon in terms of ecology and reduced cost of production. Also the severe shortage of energy has led to the necessity of evolving energy efficiency methods. Today the textile sector is striving hard to rely on these methods from initial stages to final stages of fabric production.
Nevertheless, there still remains a significant room to improve energy efficiency in textile sector. Globally only a handful of textile industries are laying emphasis on energy efficient methods. At present the biggest challenge that the textile sector faces so far as energy efficiency is concerned is that in many countries especially the developing countries like India and China, the overall electricity use has risen, which has resulted in acute power shortage thus encouraging the use of invertors and generators in textile units. This in turn increases the cost of production, as cost of electricity rises with units resorting to captive power through gensets. In order to make the process of manufacturing more efficient, energy cost, which is around 15-20 per cent of the total production cost, has to be controlled; and this can be attained with the help of energy efficient processes. In some countries manpower shortage is yet another major problem forcing the textile units to install more automated machines. Consequently, with textile machinery manufacturers incorporating automation in the machines, the overall power requirements keep rising. The latest statistics of United States of America reveal that investments in energy efficiency and the resulting energy cost savings supported about 3 lakh jobs in the economy. Also energy-related CO2 emissions as per the Annual Energy Outlook 2014 (AEO) reference case will keep declining by 0.2 percent per year on an average till the year 2040.
In textile the energy efficiency technologies begin right from yarn spinning process followed by weaving process, wet processing, cylinder drying, man-made or synthetic fibre production and fabric dyeing. Textile units are also paying special attention on replacing of old inefficient boiler feed pumps with energy efficient pumps. In India, it has been reported that an energy efficient pump saves electricity of approximately 27 megawatt hour (MWh) per year with an investment cost of about US $ 3000. Also with greater use of renewable energy resources like solar heater for water, direct exposure to sun for drying the fibre and installing turbo ventilators that rotate using wind blowing over roofs, the cost of production has dramatically reduced.
In developed countries, several large scale and medium scale textile units have energy monitoring system installed to ensure that the units do not exceed a particular level of energy use. It has been observed that the textile industry, in general, is not an energy-intensive industry. It is the large number of textile plants in a particular country that all together consume a significant amount of energy. The share of total manufacturing energy consumed by the textile sector in any given country is directly proportional to the structure of the manufacturing sector in that country. This explains why the textile industry accounts for about 5 percent of the
primary energy use in manufacturing in China, while this share is less than 2 percent in the United States.
In certain countries the charges for overall water supply and waste water discharge are continuously rising, which make it inevitable for textile companies to save water and address issues related to disposal of waste water, in order to save cost and remain competitive. These measures have ensured that the textile sector concentrates on employing methods that result in energy saving. Thus, considering the overall use of energy in various stages of textile production, energy efficiency has become more important than the production of energy itself. In current times, energy efficiency is as significant as conventional energy to the economy, and because of efficiency, the economy is more productive for a lower incremental cost. Textile companies in countries like Germany are constantly applying intelligent solutions to the textile production and final products to contribute in reduction of energy waste while maintaining the product quality. Many other countries are taking a leaf from Germany's book to take simple steps like controlling the waste in the blow room and card. In practice, waste control results in swift savings of $ 50,000 per cleaning unit annually without any compromise with quality.
The prevailing take on energy efficiency lays emphasis that economic productivity is more closely related to energy efficiency rather than energy production. It is this reason that a developed country like America spent roughly $ 574 billion on energy efficiency improvements across a range of sectors including textile in past few years. Specialists have also predicted that the global energy costs will double by the year 2020, which will make it mandatory for textile units to explore the regenerative resources and discover new energy efficient ways to survive the global competition.