There is a great quote about the metal castings industry and that is "Castings are essential building blocks of U.S. industry". Not a single manufacturing machine would work without castings and, without manufacturing machinery our economy would grind to a screeching halt. Considerable efforts goes on behind the scenes in foundries in order for castings to remain integral to our industries, our economy, and our lives. Foundries are constantly looking for ways to lower expenses, offer competitive prices, improve lead time on orders, and still deliver outstanding quality. Our world depends on them to deliver.
Metal melting is an extremely high energy intensive manufacturing process. In the metal casting industry, energy usage is over 250 trillion BTUs annually. Foundries are one of the largest consumers of electric power. And, in today's market utility rates are not cheap. Thus, it is a given fact that energy costs can impact the cost of tooling, the cost of casting, and the day-to-day operation of a foundry facility. With the cost of energy already high and forecasted to go even higher, foundries cannot afford to look the other way and hope for the best. There is a solution to lowering current energy costs and hedging against future increases. Foundries who will figure this out and go forward will gain a significant advantage over their competition.
SOLAR POWER & LIGHT's CEO Neil Chaudhry, saw opportunities for foundries to capitalize on a cleaner form of power and help lower the energy cost for the foundry industry. After hearing Neil explain this opportunity, MCM Precision Castings, Inc. located in Weston, Ohio partnered with SOLAR POWER & LIGHT, Miamisburg, Ohio for the installation of a 66.2kW solar power system. The partnership was a good fit because Neil has an extensive background in the metal casting industry and MCM's President, Don Marion has always been an advocate in environmental awareness. Don was impressed by Neil's industry background and the principles behind SOLAR POWER & LIGHT so he wanted to hear SP&L's solution for taking MCM "Green" and reducing its high energy costs. Don knew the challenges in today's economic condition and wanted to take action and felt comfortable with going "Green".
Like any industry, there are challenges controlling energy efficiency and savings on costs. Foundries are mostly affected because of their dependence on energy intensive manufacturing processes. A utility company's demand charges can compound the cost of energy. They will bill a business for the peak amount of power it consumes at any one point in time each month. These are the most frustrating costs of business owners because they are paying for a month distribution of power that they may only use in a few hours. The peak power demand is usually during the first shift mid-day. During this peak demand, solar will generate at its maximum and will reduce the amount of energy needed from the utility company. Foundries would still be connected to the Grid power (no change there); the only change would be that a foundry would be able to use the solar power for their electrical needs first and therefore, reduce the amount of demand the utility would have to provide. So in saving on the kWh generation rate, there would be more savings from the solar system reducing a foundry's peak demand charges from the utility.
Going solar does not necessarily mean having solar panels on a roof but they are typically installed there to keep them out of the way and maximize unused space that also tends to receive the most sunlight. Solar systems can also be installed just as effectively at ground level or even over parking areas as a carport structure. MCM had a limited amount of roof space, so in order to maximize solar production and MCM's savings, SP&L designed a more complex system that could take advantage of the unused section of land adjacent to the foundry. A 33.3kW system was installed on the roof and a 32.9kW system was installed on the ground.
MCM recognized that the industry needs to be presented in communities as a good caring neighbor and going "Green" is an excellent way to do this. "Green" will attract attention and it will attract customers. Solar can save thousands of pounds of CO2 per week from going into the air we breathe. Solar is good for foundries, it's good for business, and it's good for the environment.