Plan now for a future of escalating energy prices

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Robinson installed an energy efficient brewhouse
Robinson installed an energy efficient brewhouse

Related tags: Energy efficiency, Efficient energy use, Energy conservation

Food firms’ energy costs increased by 7% from January 2012 to December 2012, with rises totalling a further 52% forecast by 2020.

The statistics  ̶  published by project engineering firm Lorien  ̶  also showed a 5% increase in electricity and a 12% rise in gas tariffs in the final quarter of 2012.

This trend is set to continue, as government policies set ambitious energy-saving targets, which are expensive for the industry.

22% higher

Recently published government research indicated that the cost of energy to business would be 22% higher by 2020 as the result of these policies, on top of an estimated 30% increase in today's costs.

It is therefore no surprise that food manufacturers are targeting even greater energy efficiency targets over the coming years.

Speaking at the end of last year, Ian Dearn, head of manufacturing at Mondelz International's Sheffield site said he was hoping to reduce energy consumption by 40%.

Projects are underway to reduce the cycle time of the motor that coats the firm's mint products while staff are reformulating the jelly sweets to minimise cooking time.

Elsewhere, other manufacturers have taken more wholesale  ̶  and more expensive  ̶  approaches.

Improved energy efficiency by 60%

Robinsons Brewery in Stockport has installed a new multi-million pound brewhouse, which has improved energy efficiency by 60% and reduced evaporation rates by two-thirds because md Oliver Robinson said it was more cost- effective in energy terms than repairing old equipment.

Similarly, Alan McInnes, technical and operations director at BV Dairy in Shaftesbury, is now reaping the rewards of a £2M anaerobic digestion plant  ̶  the first in the UK dairy industry  ̶  which provides 30% of the dairy's energy.

He said forward planning and a willingness to invest were crucial to reducing energy use.

“We bought our energy up to the middle of 2014 six months ago when prices were a little lower than they are today. This has given us the time to install energy-efficient air compressors and bring on-stream a new chilled water plant, which also has heat recovery. That cools down the products after pasteurisation and the heat that we take out can warm the water for use in the rest of the factory.

“Forward planning is crucial in this area because energy prices are only going in one direction.”

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