EECA and Solid Wood Innovations (SWI), a research consortium of 26 companies, will support members to improve efficiency in wood processing. Together with forestry, wood processing is New Zealand's third largest export earner, generating $3.2 billion annually.
EECA industrial programme manager, Rod Treder says because energy efficiency can provide immediate and long-term cost-savings, it is one of the most effective ways of increasing productivity.
"Energy efficiency is of growing importance to our exporters who are challenged by an appreciating New Zealand dollar and customers becoming increasingly aware of the sustainability credentials of their suppliers," he says.
The programme will focus on SWI member sites that use the most energy, and will use technology experts to develop and implement effective energy management plans. The programme will also fund technology upgrades that will provide immediate and long-term cost savings.
"Solid wood processors are focussed on cost savings and any initiative that can provide immediate returns is welcomed. This partnership will help us deliver cost savings and enhance the sustainability credentials of wood processors," says Solid Wood Innovations CEO Keith Mackie.
New Zealand wood processors use around 4600 GWh of energy every year, costing them an estimated $184 million. The programme is expected to save around 26 GWh of energy each year - equivalent to the annual energy use of around 3,000 homes.
EECA will provide funding of up to $300,000 over two years.
Results of the various energy efficiency initiatives will be made available to other companies to encourage replication.
"We anticipate further uptake of energy efficiency across the industry when other wood processors are made aware of the potential gains," says Rod Treder.
He says from manufacturing to agriculture, energy efficiency is increasingly becoming recognised as a way of improving productivity, international competitiveness and enhancing brand value.
Source: EECA media release