Energy Efficiency

Energy Management

We continue to work on further improving our energy data measurement and reporting capabilities. More and more of our plants are using comprehensive energy information systems, enabling us to better understand and manage energy consuming processes in our operations and improve total system performance. Some plants are realizing significant energy savings using smaller scope energy monitoring. We will continue installing additional energy monitoring devices in our operations in 2019 and beyond.

Line control optimization is another opportunity for improvements. When production lines stand still for short periods, not all equipment needs full power. By installing variable frequency drives (VFDs), we slow or shut down certain systems to realize energy savings. For instance, we continued to install VFDs at 11 of our South American plants in 2017, and expect energy savings of more than 4 million kilowatt hours a year once the project is completed.


The majority of our energy consumption comes from air compressors and ovens in our plants. In a beverage can plant, air compressors consume between 20 and 30 percent of the electricity. We conduct audits of our compressed air systems and optimize performance by reducing system pressure, minimizing wasteful air use and leaks, and decreasing manufacturing equipment demand. We continued to install more efficient compressors and connected additional equipment to low-pressure systems during the reporting period. At the end of 2017, 55 percent of our beverage can plants operated dual-air systems that supply equipment with either high- or low-pressure air. Compared to traditional systems that rely only on high pressure, low pressure compressed air is 22 percent more energy efficient than high pressure air, and also results in less energy loss through artificial demand.

Within our operations, ovens are used to evaporate water from cans after being washed and to cure external and internal coatings. Ovens account for up to 75 percent of a beverage can plant’s natural gas usage and up to 20 percent of its electricity usage. Through oven audits, low-cost optimization projects, and increased employee awareness of oven energy use and associated costs, we have realized natural gas efficiency gains in our can businesses of 7 percent between 2013 and 2018.



A regenerative thermal oxidizer (RTO) is a pollution control system that uses high temperatures to destroy volatile organic compounds emitted during can coating processes. RTOs normally operate using natural gas and are thermal efficient, meaning the media in an RTO retains and transfers heat, which lowers the amount of natural gas needed. For example, we installed a heat recovery system in our Ejpovice, Czech Republic, plant in 2016 and use heat from the RTO to boil water before it enters the washing process. Through this project we expect to save 5.6 million kilowatt hours of natural gas each year. While we continue to capture heat from the RTO, we are also successfully recovering waste energy from other equipment.

Our Saratoga Springs, New York, beverage can plant has a multi-year track record of improving energy efficiency. Employees engineered a method to recover heat from the plant’s closed-loop cooling water system and reuse it for incoming process water.

When water circulates through air compressors, coolers, air dryers, vacuum pumps, decorator inkers and various other process equipment, it removes heat created during the manufacturing processes. Before the heated water reaches the cooling tower, it now travels through a heat exchanger that transfers the heat to incoming makeup water, which is then used in the can washing process. The water is then transferred to the cooling tower at a lower temperature; reducing the load on the cooling tower, which utilizes energy to cool the water. During periods of high humidity, the system previously experienced heat pump failures, compressor inefficiencies, and air dryer faulting due to high temperatures.

Reducing the cooling tower’s load benefits the plant through increased performance during hot summer days and by reducing operating costs throughout the year. The plant noted a heat reduction of about 22 percent of the cooling tower capacity with an additional 20 percent reduction in cooling tower fan speed – both extending the life of the tower. To date, the project has recorded water savings of at least 2,000 gallons per day from water typically lost in the cooling tower due to evaporation and natural gas savings of 90 kilowatt hours per day, equal to $18,000 per year.

With a total project cost of approximately $25,000, the direct savings from gas, electricity, water and improved efficiency of the compressors will cover this expense in less than a year.

Beverage Cans on Line


Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) control during the heating season is another energy efficiency opportunity. Central control systems and higher awareness of HVAC-related energy usage and costs are driving progress. We identify optimal temperatures for different areas within a plant and educate employees on how they can achieve these temperatures with the lowest energy input. Installing heat curtains, for example, reduces heat or cooling loss.

Though Ball Aerospace only accounts for less than 2 percent of Ball’s energy consumption, optimizing energy usage is a high priority for this business. Cleanroom operations are a major energy usage area. In these rooms, the levels of environmental pollutants, such as dust and microbes, are reduced to enable sensitive aerospace instruments and other technologies to be manufactured and tested. We continue making improvements to reduce energy consumption in operating these cleanrooms. For example, we recently modified the HVAC automation control system for one of our large cleanrooms to reduce air flow during unoccupied hours (weekday nights and weekends). The estimated electricity reduction is about 1 million kilowatt hours per year, equivalent to more than 758 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.


During the reporting period, lighting continued to be a priority for our energy engineers. While it is crucial to provide proper lighting to keep our employees safe and allow them to effectively execute their jobs, lights do not need to be continually at full power. Every Ball plant changed some lighting to LED and several underwent complete conversions. We include adaptive lighting control options to further increase efficiency by matching the light levels to occupancy and daylight availability. Compared to conventional lighting, a completely converted LED plant with both lights and respective controls saves about 75 percent lighting electricity, with 55 percent of this savings from the LED and 45 percent from the controls. In addition to LED lighting, we are installing skylights and additional windows in some of our facilities to better utilize daylight.


A team effort is required to achieve our plant energy reduction goals. That is why several facilities established formal voluntary energy conservation or broader sustainability teams.  Ball's metal beverage packaging plant in Williamsburg, Virginia, has a multi-year track record of engaging its employees in energy conservation efforts and improving energy efficiency. Between 2013 and 2018, the plant improved its electricity efficiency by 13 percent. And the team in Williamsburg continues to develop and test new ideas to further maximize the value of our existing businesses.