Even before the axis of global power had shifted so far eastwards, we had grown accustomed to lagging behind the foremost Asian economies in one respect or another.
While China is busy constructing new coal fired stations, it is also investing massively in renewables and energy efficiency. So too are the most developed nations of the western Pacific Rim such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore.
That we lag behind is evident, yet not without some valid reasons, as our feature on page 7 references. Western economies such as the UK’s have had to prioritise labour costs when assessing productivity in a way their Asian rivals have not.
However, the opportunity for further change is likely to be limited by the likelihood that supply of the right labour will fall far short of demand.
To begin with, the existing workforce is top heavy with older employees close to retirement and short of younger ones to make up the numbers.
On top of this, the roles currently being performed will reduce in number and new ones are emerging. So it will not be a simple matter of training new people for current tasks but recruiting them for new jobs. And labour shortages create increased labour costs.
Of course, to some extent, eventually, this will be offset by the benefits of a growth in automation.
Western economies have had to prioritise labour costs when assessing productivity in a way their Asian rivals have not
In the meantime, though, process industries must look elsewhere to directly influence their productivity situation. As with their Asian counterparts, that will mean a greater proportional focus on driving energy efficiencies.
The ‘motor’ for change will be pumping systems in their various aspects. Given that pumps account, as we know, for a decisive proportion of energy use, this is but common sense.
Then factor in the increased importance of electrification and the specific contribution that pumps make to energy use in this area.