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La revue soGaz #5

Energy solutions for industry

Many industrial sectors, including metallurgy and the paper and food industries, use boilers and furnaces.

These are large consumers of natural gas. For them, optimizing gas usage is essential.

Beyond energy prices, what levers can be used to optimize the performance of these industrial sites? By providing access to the wholesale market, optimizing processes, choosing equipment and implementing high-performance technical solutions, GRTgaz supports industrial consumers in their efforts to use natural gas with optimal efficiency, in both environmental and economic terms.


Improving energy efficiency at industrial sites

GRTgaz supports industrial consumers in their efforts to use natural gas with optimal efficiency, in both environmental and economic terms.


An interview with Yann Guinard, Purchasing Manager for SGD S.A


In addition to providing the benefits of a dynamic wholesale market, and competitive prices compared to other energies such as fuel oil, gas offers clear advantages in the current technological and regulatory environment.

  • Air quality regulations are becoming increasingly strict, in particular with the transposition of the IED (Industrial Emissions Directive), the implementation of the French particulate matter reduction plan ["Plan Particules"], and the ceilings imposed on France by the NEC (National Emissions Ceilings) Directive. Liquid fuels will be distinctly limited by these regulations, and dust requirements will be stricter than before (fuels concerned include biomass, coal, and fuel oil). Natural gas, on the other hand, does not emit soot or dust when burned. It generates 30% less carbon dioxide (CO2) than fuel oil and 45% less than coal, less nitrogen oxides (NOx) and very little sulphur dioxide (SO2), the cause of acid rain. It should be noted that natural gas has an emission limit value of 100 mg/Nm3 of NOx, for new and existing boilers, as well as in continuous emissions monitoring for certain configurations.
  • Gas also brings an economic advantage in the field of taxation, for industrial companies that owe TGAP [French tax on polluting activities]: the current rates for sulphur oxides (SOx) emissions and total airborne particles tripled in 2013. The rate for nitrogen oxides (NOx) rose from €160.80/tonne to €164.18/tonne, after having tripled in 2012.
  • In the field of energy efficiency, 2012 saw a vote for a new EED (Energy Efficiency Directive) which should go into effect starting in 2014. Among the measures adopted, one that should be noted is the requirement for large businesses to conduct an energy audit every four years. This could mean a real opportunity for improving industrial processes and reducing energy costs.

Optimizing the uses of natural gas

GRTgaz supports industrial consumers in their efforts to identify areas for cost savings that can be implemented in their facilities.

For example, in the case of industrial boiler rooms, we can list four courses of action:

1/ Monitoring of energy and water consumption. This monitoring is the first action that should be implemented. It enables precise determination of the distribution of energy between different user stations, as well as making available means to detect any excessive variations in consumption.

2/ Periodic inspection of boiler performance, via regular combustion analysis, efficiency calculations, and if necessary, adjustment of settings. Mandatory for boilers over 400 kW, this inspection is essential. Optimizing combustion or installing an O2-CO regulator can increase NCV efficiency by 0.5% to 2%.

3/ Optimization and implementation of performance-enhancing processes such as blowdown management, heat recovery during boiler purges, and installation of a condenser or economizer. Installing an economizer can often mean a 4% increase in yield.

4/ Optimizing the steam network, e.g. by insulating pipes, setting up preventative maintenance on traps, or using flash steam. For example, it is considered that 20% of steam traps prove to be defective each year. And a leak in a trap can result in 5 to 20 kg/h of steam lost.

While these are the "classic" ways of finding cost savings, each boiler is often a special case. As such, the choice of which solution(s) to implement depends on the specifics of the site, and on how the steam is produced and used.

Conversion of fuel oil to gas: illustration of potential gains


Steam boiler


10 t/h

Annual consumption of ultra-low-sulphur heavy fuel oil:

4 190 tonnes

For an energy bill of

2 417 k€/year


Total energy gain (operating performance, fuel implementation, more efficient burners):

between 5,5% à 9%

Additional savings possible with the gas solution by setting up a solution for exhaust heat recovery:

between 4 à 5 %


Between 31% and 35%, or around €800,000/year not counting tax savings)

* Hypothetical energy prices (approximate market prices, May 2013):
- ultra-low-sulphur heavy fuel oil: €52/MWh
- natural gas: €35/MWh


Industrial High-Performance Clubs, to meet each consumer's specific needs

Energy efficiency is now a competitiveness factor. In the future, consideration of supply management will go hand in hand with the development of high-performance, energy-efficient uses. Whether it be technology, purchasing, use, regulations, or taxation, all of these components are increasingly, and inextricably, at the core of industry thought on how to develop tools and production methods.

This is why GRTgaz has decided to set up Industrial High-Performance Clubs, events designed to provide a group of consumers with a forum for exchanges on common issues. GRTgaz regularly invites industrial firms connected to the transmission network, as well as future customers who would like to have discussions with other industrial companies and share their feedback on different topics.

The Industrial High-Performance Clubs have to date brought together industrial consumers in three main sectors:

  • glassmaking;
  • food industry;
  • natural gas supply.

Clubs de performance industrielle illustration