Outsourcing Pharmaceutical Infrastructure Operations - Pharmaceutical Technology

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Outsourcing Pharmaceutical Infrastructure Operations


Pharmaceutical Technology Europe


Leveraging combined heat and power


Figure 1: Comparison of separate heat and power generation with cogeneration. (Figure is courtesy of the authors.)
Another key advantage of outsourcing energy management is that full-service outside providers possess the expertise to evaluate, design, build and then operate technologies such as combined heat and power (CHP) to optimise energy efficiency. CHP, sometimes referred to as cogeneration, is an efficient energy technology that simultaneously generates power (i.e., electricity) and thermal energy, which is used for heating, cooling and production of high-pressure process steam, while typically consuming only 60% of the fuel required for separate processes (1). Figure 1 illustrates the higher energy efficiency of CHP compared to separate heat and power production. CHP technology is currently experiencing a resurgence in pharmaceutical facilities due to its many operational benefits. CHP can provide increased energy reliability, greater fuel flexibility and market responsiveness. CHP can also mitigate lost products and research projects due to utility grid failures. CHP reduces greenhouse gas emissions; the waste heat generated during the power production process can be captured, recycled and used for process applications without the need for boilers within each building.

CHP is a proven solution for industrial manufacturing environments, in which reliable power is crucial. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Combined Heat and Power Partnership, 88% of existing CHP plants are utilised for industrial purposes (2). The other 12% are used by commercial and institutional entities such as hospitals, municipal and state governments, colleges and universities. With a full-service outsourcing provider, designing, building and operating complex energy infrastructure may be achieved seamlessly.

Customers that implement CHP typically experience the following benefits:
  • Cost savings. Burning less fuel generates cost savings. CHP users avoid buying from the market at peak price periods. CHP can also be configured to use locally-sourced renewable fuels.
  • Reliability. Utility power outages will not interrupt CHP operations, so critical processes continue uninterrupted.
  • Environmental benefits. Greenhouse gas emissions and criteria air pollutants are reduced when less fuel is combusted.
  • Fuel diversity. CHP plants may be designed for input of multiple sources of fuel. This multi-fuel ability increases energy security and can also mitigate volatility in fuel commodity prices.

Conclusion

Outsourcing may seem like a simple concept, but the potential benefits are significant, especially when complex energy infrastructure must be operated and maintained at the highest levels of reliability. Pharmaceutical research and manufacturing processes are costly to operate, so outsourcing the facility's energy plant operations and management can be a solution to control costs, reduce fuel and energy consumption and evaluate and implement energy solutions and technologies that can ensure the integrity of the underlying processes.

Mel Palmer is business development director for Veolia Energy North America.
tel. +1 617 849 6656.

David Lyons is client operations manager at Dalkia Ireland's Pharmaceutical & Healthcare division.

References

1. EPA, "Efficiency Benefits," http://www.epa.gov/chp/basic/efficiency.html, accessed June 20, 2012.

2. EPA, "Combined Heat and Power FAQ," http://www.epa.gov/chp/documents/faq.pdf, accessed June 22, 2012.


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