Sustainability: Big gains on tap from trimming energy use

Sustainability: Big gains on tap from trimming energy use

Big gains are up for grabs for industrial players keen on switching to energy efficient production equipment, say industry insiders.

And the spinoffs amount to more than just money saved on power bills.

For several years, Active Refrigeration's Craig Duff has been a champion of high temperature ammonia heat pump technology, which simultaneously provides heating and cooling within the same plant.

It's been successfully used at smallgoods producer Hellers to cut its reliance on LPG heating, a project that got the nod from the judges in the innovation category at the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority's 2016 awards.

"I still personally believe it's a game changer for us as we start to challenge things like fossil fuels and sustainability and where we are actually heading," says Duff.

"The majority of New Zealand's primary industry [processing] requires simultaneous cold or cool and high-grade heat."

He says for years industrial sites have looked at harnessing low-grade heat -- anything around the 35C to 45C mark -- for use in processing but now, being able to boost refrigeration efficiency at the same time as pumping out steaming hot water of at least 65C is a proven winner.

In the case of Hellers, it slashed 91 per cent of carbon emissions from refrigeration and pumped up plant efficiency by more than 800 per cent, says Duff.

The improved production efficiency has also had knock-on benefits, he says, with more relaxed operating conditions around the components and less stress in the operations.

"The key is actually identifying, with the clients, the opportunities that exist.

"We have the technology, we have the design engineering and the ability in-house, but you've actually got to identify the opportunity and that's what we've done successfully.

"And they're loving it.

"The numbers that I've given you are conservative now because as [Hellers] start to grow and get used to the technology, they're actually finding more and more ways to put load on that system."

Jeff Smit from DETA Consulting says the opportunities for energy saving on industrial sites are large and meaty.

"We're technical geeks at heart and we like that sort of thing about making a real difference and getting the big savings."


"I don't think people appreciate the things that they could do to save costs." 
Jeff Smit, DETA Consulting


DETA's advice to meat processor ANZCO helped it redesign and retrofit heat recovery plants to produce hot water at each of its seven sites.

It's an industry where money is tight, says ANZCO asset manager Ian Reid, but the efficiency targets for the $3.9 million in capital expenditure were hit within two years.

ANZCO has cut overall energy use by 17 per cent, saved $2.6 million each year in fuel bills and reduced greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of meat by 14 per cent.

Where previously all water came out of the tap at a piping hot 92C, it is now dialled right back for hand and apron washing and 65C water is used to wash the plant.

Straight away there were big savings, says Reid, with the added benefit of reducing burns.

Reid says ANZCO, one of New Zealand largest exporters, says external sustainability audits demanded by its customers are becoming more intense.

It's now in a position to present energy savings, and has a sustainability game plan for the future, he says.

Working alongside the staff at ANZCO, Smit has seen a real step change in the business, with a cranking up of engagement levels within the company.

"Energy is one part of it but you've got happy people, you have better staff retention and in a competitive market that is reasonably challenging," he says.

"I don't think people appreciate the things that they could do to save costs - they just don't know.

"You talk about energy being a cost, but productivity and production in terms of revenue streams far outweighs any cost of energy, so their focus has always been on production.

"In the dairy game it's make as much powder as possible, in meat the game is get as many animals through as you possibly can and maximising volume as opposed to looking at the efficiencies around the process.

"Energy efficiency on most sites is still a thing that floats around the periphery but production always remains the key.

"It's just a different focus."

Energy champions

• 91 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from hot water heating, by using waste heat.
• Hot water heating costs cut by 84 per cent$148,000 a year saving in heating costs.
• Reduced reliance on LPG has had improved health and safety.

• Invested $3.9 million in a capital works programme.
• Achieved a 17 per cent cut in overall energy use, saving $2.6 million each year.
• 14 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of meat.