Meeting Future Energy Needs In The Food & Beverage Processing Industry

30 October 2017

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With wholesale energy prices in Australia predicted to rise by as much as 200% over the next three years, the need to manage energy costs in business is becoming urgent.

Energy accounts for one of the most significant areas of cost for the majority of industrial businesses – especially those with temperature-intensive processes such as in food and beverage manufacturing.

Australian Food and Grocery Council CEO, Tanya Barden says the food and beverage industry is facing increasing pressure due to high energy costs.

“There is no doubt Australia’s largest manufacturing sector is facing an environment where input costs are rising on everything from commodities to labour to energy, and six years of retail price deflation continues to cut margins, placing the sector under increasing pressure.”

“We are expecting these pressures to only increase as energy, especially gas, has seen a doubling and in some cases a tripling of price that is likely to have dire consequence for Australian jobs and investment, with some companies re-assessing their long-term future in Australia.”

Australian Meat Industry Council CEO, Patrick Hutchinson said high energy prices have already placed meat processing jobs at risk.

“We have one lamb processor in Victoria who is seeing close to $600,000 to $1 million increase in energy prices in a year,” he said.

“We’ve also seen major domestic beef processing go in Ipswich with 500 jobs.”

“It’s never been more important to manage energy costs.”

There is also constant pressure on the food and beverage processing industry to reduce emissions with many organisations looking to optimise their energy use.

In its White Paper Industrial Energy Strategic Opportunity, design, build and facilities management specialists Wiley predict the future for industrial energy and explain what businesses need to do to gear up for the opportunities ahead.

In the White Paper, Brett Wiskar, R&D and Innovation Director at Wiley, outlines effective solutions for businesses in the food and drink processing sector to harness new technologies and build long-term resilience in energy efficiency, supply and cost and ultimately remain competitive.

The solutions include increasing efficiency and reducing consumption, introducing solar production either, in isolation or in conjunction with battery storage.

“To reduce consumption and increase efficiency, businesses need to optimise the use of their existing equipment, install effective metering equipment and ensure effective shutdown procedures are in place.” Mr Wiskar says.

“Operating temperatures and the pressure of equipment and processes should also be optimised and heat gain into fridges and boilers should be minimised as much as possible. Maintaining equipment is also important.”

According to Mr. Wiskar, installing solar panels and storing the energy for later use can be one of the most effective means in reducing energy bills.

“Australia has ample access to solar with falling install costs starting to drive up larger scale industrial adoption. In addition to generating your own energy with solar panels, energy captured at peak times can also be stored for later use.”

“There’s now a number of technological solutions on the market for effectively storing energy and we continue to monitor and work with the leading developers in the world to ensure the best technology is available to the Australian manufacturing industry,” Mr. Wiskar says.

Industry and executive leaders must ensure their operations remain profitable into the future in spite of energy volatility and growing costs.