Don’t guess with carbon tax

Now that the carbon tax has been approved by Parliament, companies should shift their attention to limiting the costs of paying the tax.

Now that the carbon tax has been approved by Parliament, companies should shift their attention to limiting the costs of paying the tax.

A range of highly sophisticated analytic devices designed to measure and quantify emissions from flues, chimneys and furnaces is available to companies affected by the tax. This equipment can be used to monitor which gases are being expelled into the atmosphere.

That's the first step companies can take in reducing the amount of carbon and other environmentally harmful chemicals they release.

Unfortunately, many of these gases are simply byproducts of modern manufacturing or processing techniques and, therefore, can't necessarily be avoided. However, in many instances they can be reduced.

Soon, limiting carbon emissions will be viewed a cost-saving exercise. Over the past few years, many larger polluters have been environmentally responsible in monitoring their emissions. However, smaller or mid-sized emitters are yet to be placed under the microscope.

A carbon tax will change all that.

That's why companies need to be fully aware of what CO2 e-tonnes they are emitting because some chemicals are far worse for the environment than carbon.

For instance, nitrous oxide has the ability to trap 296 times more heat per kilogram than carbon dioxide, while sulphur hexafluoride can trap 22,200 times more heat per kilo than CO2.

If these gases remain unchecked, the global warming potential could be extreme. And companies exceeding their legal emissions limit will have to pay.

Having regular air quality agency personnel attend a site and set up monitoring gear is an expensive, often intrusive and time-consuming task. If these agencies need to visit more than twice a year, the cost to companies can exceed that of purchasing and installing their own monitoring equipment.

Before settling on a monitoring system, investigate the differences between them. Some monitoring systems require employees to climb ladders and platforms attached to chimneys to check results or make adjustments, which greatly increases OH&S risks on site and often requires additional personnel training.

But other equipment, such as an extractive solution, is land-based and can be housed in the vicinity of the flue. The equipment can be checked and maintained in a safe environment adjacent to the chimney or flue.

A rack-mounted system designed specifically for this task can be installed straight out of the box. It can be pre-configured in a factory to measure what a company needs so that when it arrives it can be ready to work from Day 1.

Make sure your chosen system integrates easily with your existing plant and that spare parts are readily available. Ensure that servicing can be carried out by trained experts in the field.

This will make a huge difference in avoiding lengthy delays down the track when replacement parts or upgrades are required.

Check that your provider has an understanding of Australian Carbon Tax Legislation and the relevant European and Australian Standards. It would be helpful if they have supplied analytical instrumentation to overseas companies where carbon emissions are already being governed.

A company that fully understands the ramifications of Australia's new Carbon Tax legislation will prove to be a valuable partner in years to come.

[Brendan Welsh is Marketing Manager for the Process Analytics Division of Siemens Australia.]