Get your electricity costs under control with Demand Management

Electricity is one of the most variable costs in manufacturing. This whitepaper discusses upgrading underutilised onsite backup power generators to automatically generate power during times of peak demand – called Demand Management – in order to reduce the amount of electricity drawn from the grid – saving on your electricity bill.

In any business electricity usage varies. A hot day in summer, the air-conditioning runs non-stop, electricity use goes up. A manufacturing plant gets busy because of a new product release, electricity use goes up. Often a medium to large business will have a backup electricity generator on premises to provide electricity to the organisation in case of a blackout or other disconnection from the mains grid. This generator can be configured to automatically generate electricity during times of peak demand reducing your overall electricity bill, whilst using an asset you already own.

To download more information, click here.

Saving on energy costs by using the right equipment

Australians are likely to experience a 53.8 per cent increase in energy prices in Victoria from the fourth quarter of 2018 to the first quarter of 2019. Other states are expected to see similar increases, according to predictions from the Australian Energy Regulator. For Victoria, this would mean the dollar per megawatt hour could jump from $84 to $129.

Despite a strong surge in prices, the four-year forecast estimates a decline in Victoria to $68.5 per megawatt hour by the fourth quarter of 2019, but it could climb to $80.4 per megawatt hour in the first quarter of 2021. New South Wales is expected to see a lower first quarter in 2019 than Victoria, but prices remain slightly higher throughout the year. In the first quarter of next year, NSW is expected to reach $105 per megawatt hour and it should increase to $71 per megawatt hour in the final quarter of 2019.

With numbers fluctuating in the next five years, saving on energy where possible is becoming increasingly important to companies, including food and beverage manufacturers. MHE-Demag helps businesses reduce their energy consumption and minimise costs by offering specialised equipment and services. The company provides loading bay solutions for food storage and cold chain operators, with products including dock levellers, dock shelters and doors.

MHE-Demag managing director Vince Di Costanzo said the company’s unique, customisable range of products and staff expertise helps create long-term savings. “With energy costs being higher than any other country, it’s a real focal point for business survival,” he said.

In late-2018, the company completed a project with a large food supplier in Melbourne, which stocks a range of fresh and frozen foods as well as drygoods and paper products. “They do everything from jarred and canned food to oils, pastas, rice and an array of seafood. It’s quite a covering,” said Di Costanzo. MHE-Demag installed dock levellers, rapid rail doors, high-speed roller shutters and door seals at the factory.

“We have high-speed, insulated freezer doors that maintain temperatures from sub-zero to five degrees. By maintaining environmental integrity in the cold storage environment, it maximises energy efficiency.” Dock shelters and seals for incoming and outgoing products helped achieve that, he said.

A hands-on role throughout the project was required to ensure the client received the best service and made cost savings where possible. By offering personalised project management, MHE-Demag was able to steer the company away from a more expensive door installation to an option that would lower their energy bill. “Where they were wanting two doors in one location, we were able to create a one door solution, meeting the same requirements.” The change in design means the company only needs to run power to a single door.

“In our product offering, we were able to provide the shelter and seals to the required measurements and we’ve created better insulation for this company. The energy loss has been dramatically reduced,” said Di Costanzo.

Service after Installation
MHE-Demag also believes in preventative maintenance and ongoing support that will ensure the products last. “We make sure there’s an inspection carried out on all of the seals. Where ever there’s a sign of wear and tear we can replace, or repair, or put other protocols in place,” said Di Costanzo.

However, there are already measures in place to minimise products breakage once it is installed. The door curtains on MHE-Demag’s high speed doors, for example, are self-repairing. If the door curtain comes off of the track, for instance in the event of impact with a forklift, the system will guide the curtain back into the tracks on the next cycle. They are made without any rigid pieces, making them safe for use by equipment and staff.

“To minimise energy consumption, a zipper style fixture of the curtain retention within the guides or tracks creates a more reliable seal for minimal temperature or air loses compared to many rapid roller doors with fabric curtains,” said Di Costanzo.

With many of the products, such as the dock leveller, manufactured in Australia, MHE-Demag is also able to provide items quickly. “We have better control of the manufacturing and we tend to have a higher quality, stronger product,” he said.

Energy consumption grows  
As Australian energy consumption continues to grow, MHE-Demag aims to help companies steer clear of unnecessary power usage. An Australian government Department of the Environment and Energy, 2018 Australian Energy Update report shows that the electricity supply, transport and manufacturing sectors accounted for almost three-quarters of Australian energy consumption in 2016–17. The electricity supply sector only accounted for 28 per cent of energy consumption in 2016–17.

Australia’s energy consumption rose by 1.1 per cent in 2016–17 to reach 6,146 petajoules. This compares to an average growth of 0.8 per cent a year over the past 10 years. Growth in 2016–17 was 65 petajoules, the same amount of energy as filling a 55-litre tank of petrol 34 million times, the government report indicates.

AFGC calls for energy policy action

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) has called for all state and territory energy ministers to support the Australian Government’s National Energy Guarantee (NEG) on Friday at the COAG Energy Council Meeting.

Designed to deliver reliable and affordable energy to consumers whilst delivering emissions reductions, the NEG could potentially help provide confidence to the food and grocery manufacturing sector which is seeing a doubling and tripling of energy bills.

AFGC CEO Ms Tanya Barden said that Australia’s $127 billion food and grocery sector’s international competitiveness is being hampered by high energy costs that are likely to have dire consequence for Australian jobs and investment.

“The NEG’s focus on delivering affordable and reliable power is a fundamental step forward in providing long term policy certainty for Australia’s largest manufacturing sector,” said Ms Barden.

“The Government’s ongoing commitment to emissions reduction is clearly critical to meeting our international obligations, whilst providing industry policy certainty to ensure secure, affordable supply that does not inhibit the sustainability of the food and grocery manufacturing sector.”

“Many food and grocery manufacturers are due to renew their electricity contracts and are concerned about their viability in the next couple of years. We also remain concerned about the gas market with food and grocery manufacturers being quoted prices that are still above where they should be given recent supply commitments by the gas producers.”

“Food and grocery companies will only invest in Australia if they can see a stable policy framework for driving reliable and cost effective power supplies. To achieve this there is a need for ongoing reforms that will address other shortfalls in the energy market, including improving energy retail competition, transactional behaviour and gas availability and pricing.”

“The AFGC continues to support the ACCC’s inquiries into Australia’s operation of the electricity and gas markets with view to examining mechanisms to address a lack of competition, including in energy retail. This will be crucial to ensuring the NEG’s ability to deliver energy affordability.”

“The AFGC calls on the energy ministers to work collaboratively with the Commonwealth in order to deliver long term reform of the energy market, and necessary policy certainty for industry to continue drive jobs and investment growth,” said Ms Barden.

Bioenergy project at NSW abattoir commences production

ReNu Energy has announced that the Goulburn Bioenergy Project, located at the Southern Meats abattoir in Goulburn has reached practical completion and commenced commercial operation.

The anaerobic digester and biogas treatment plant have been commissioned and are operational. The digester is receiving the full waste flow from the Facility and biogas production is ramping up with high gas quality. The two 800 kW dual fuel Caterpillar generators have been operated on both natural gas and biogas.

Chris Murray, Managing Director of ReNu Energy said, “The commercial operation of the Goulburn Bioenergy Project is a significant milestone for ReNu Energy and for the bioenergy sector in Australia. The project will supply approximately 4,000 MWh of energy annually, representing over 50% of the Facility’s power consumption and a significant reduction in energy costs and carbon emissions for our customer, Southern Meats.

The Project would not have been possible without the support of Southern Meats, and the

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). We acknowledge and thank Southern Meats and ARENA for their support.”

The Goulburn Bioenergy Project is located at the Southern Meats Pty Ltd abattoir in Goulburn, NSW.

The Project includes an anaerobic digester, which is supplied with waste water from the Facility, biogas treatment plant, two 800 kW dual fuel Caterpillar generators and electrical interconnection to the Facility.

The electricity generated is supplied to the Facility at peak times of the daily billing cycle to reduce the Facility’s overall electricity costs. To be able to meet the peak demand periods, the generators can be operated on dual fuel, blending biogas with natural gas.

Dual fuel blending is a novel and innovative application in the field of bioenergy, enabling projects to better meet the demand cycles of customers and enhance project viability through the addition of natural gas.


Magna-Power DC power supplies

Magna-Power Electronics, a worldwide leader in programmable high output DC power supplies, announces the appointment of Emona Instruments as their Australian and New Zealand distributor.

Magna-Power Electronics designs and manufactures robust programmable DC power supplies in a 1.25 kW to 2000 kW+ range. This extraordinarily high DC output range is unique amongst power supply manufacturers and establishes Magna-Power’s leadership in the design, manufacture and service of power electronics.

Addressing the needs of thousands of customers worldwide from national laboratories, universities, defence and utilities to a wide range of industrial sites, Magna-Power’s high output DC power supplies find application in the manufacture of electric vehicles; simulating solar arrays for development of inverters; steering magnets for particle accelerators; powering radar systems; driving traction controllers for locomotive development; and cutting-edge energy research at several universities.

Magna-Power Electronics products are made in the USA at their vertically integrated company-designed and owned 73,500-square-foot headquarters in Flemington, New Jersey.


Meeting the food & beverage industry’s energy needs

With wholesale energy prices in Australia predicted to rise by as much as 200 per cent 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,” she said.

“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. CONT

“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.” said Wiskar.

“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 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,” Wiskar said.

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


ACCC proposes to allow agribusinesses joint purchasing of energy

The ACCC has issued a draft determination proposing to allow businesses in the new Eastern Energy Buyers Group (EEBG) to run joint tender processes for electricity and gas.

EEBG’s members operate in the agriculture industry and are industrial energy users. Members have significant operations in Victoria and some operations interstate. The proposed joint tender process would cover supply for electricity, gas and gas transport services to members of the group.

The authorisation would also allow other industrial energy users to join the group, provided the combined annual energy consumption does not exceed 16 Petajoules of gas or 4.5 Terawatt hours of electricity, which is around 10 per cent of Victorian consumption.

“The ACCC considers that the joint tendering process is likely to result in public benefits. It would enable the group to seek more competitive pricing and terms through combining their gas and electricity demands,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

Aggregating the groups’ demand and jointly tendering for long term contracts may also provide incentives for investment in new generation, such as a small-scale power purchase agreement where EEBG would commit to acquiring the generator’s capacity up front.

Joint tendering is also likely to help EEBG group members jointly share costs for services such as negotiating and legal services.

“There will be minimal public detriment from the proposed conduct. EEBG’s members currently account for a relatively small proportion of total demand for both gas and electricity in Victoria”, Mr Sims said.

On 1 September 2017, the ACCC granted interim authorisation to allow the group to commence the tender process on the basis that the group would not enter into a supply agreement with the successful tenderer(s) unless or until the ACCC makes a final decision granting authorisation.

The ACCC proposes to grant authorisation for 11 years, and is seeking submissions on its draft determination before making a final decision.

Dairy looks to solar energy solutions

Australia’s energy crisis is helping forge new alliances between the dairy sector and industry groups hit by soaring prices and renewable energy suppliers keen to reach out to new markets.

Industry advocacy group, Dairy Connect, and renewables supplier, Solar Bay, have announced an alliance designed ultimately to build dairy producer solar energy technologies and funding packages.

Such bespoke systems would be, for example, tailor-made for family dairy enterprises.

Solar Bay is working with the University of Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources in undertaking R&D in generation and thermal storage solutions for dairy producers.

Solar Bay’s national business director Cameron Quin said today that conventional dairy farms were likely to be able to save around 20-30 per cent on their existing energy bills using onsite renewable generation paired with storage technology.

“In robotic dairies, savings could be in the order of up to 50 per cent compared with today’s overhead costs,” he said.

“Depending on the investment package, all this could be without producers incurring any infrastructure cost.

“We have investment funds committed to building our presence in this important primary production market.

“As battery storage technology develops, we’re going to be in a far more favourable renewable energy environment.

“Prominent NSW dairy producers in conventional and robotic dairying are actively investigating solar solutions and we’re assisting in that journey.”

Cameron Quin said Solar Bay was unequivocal in its belief that farmers are paying far too much for the energy they consume.

“In Queensland, farm gate power bills have doubled since 2009. This is four times higher than the Consumer Price Index increase during the same period. He said

“NSW has seen a similar price rise and energy reliability in regional & rural areas is a constant issue, farmers operating independently from the grid has become a real option.

Dairy Connect CEO Shaughn Morgan said renewables have a critical role to play in delivering lower cost energy to the dairy industry in the future.

“Obviously, in the short term, we’re going to have to source electricity from a range of providers including renewables, coal and gas,” he said.

“But the amount of investment going into research and development and the quality of the institutions conducting that R&D, give us cause for great optimism about the pathways forward.

Dairy Connect will continue to seek efficient and cost-effective energy options for the dairy industry through discussions with all sectors of the resources and energy sector.

“At Dairy Connect, we’re seeking a clear national energy policy platform from the Federal Government and much more action from the State Governments in facilitating cost effective farm energy generation.”


Premium power supplies for food makers

NHP has released a premium range of basic power supplies that offer a cost-effective solution without compromising reliability, efficiency and application flexibility – the 1606 XLB Series from Allen-Bradley.

Ideal for use in manufacturing applications such as food and beverage, packaging, materials handling, and water and wastewater the compact 1606 XLB Series from NHP offers the highest levels of reliability to reduce downtime and optimise savings.

Rated up to 1.37 million hours mean time between failure (MTBF) and with a minimum service life-time of 47,000 hours, the efficiency figures of these power supplies range from 90.7% up to 95.2%.

Offering increased choice when it comes to finding a solution that meets your application requirements, these convection cooled units can operate from -10 C° (some units -25 °C) up to 70 °C ensuring performance in the most demanding applications.

Available in 5A (120 Watts) with an input range of 85-132V AC / 170-264V AC and 10A (240 Watts) with an input range of 170-264V AC, the outputs ranges on both models are 24-28V DC.

The XLB Series are equipped with a DC-OK signal which allows the ability to monitor the output voltage, the unit also clicks smoothly onto any standard DIN rail and features large-sized terminals which makes wiring easier.

NMI pattern approved energy meters

NHP has release an energy meter with National Measurement Institute (NMI) pattern approval – the EM24DIN from Carlo Gavazzi.

The energy meter has been developed for compliance with the NMI M6-1 standard where any meter to be used for ‘trade’ or billing applications needs to be NMI pattern approved.

Recommended for embedded network applications involving sub billing such as multi-tenant office buildings and universities, the energy meter from NHP enables building owners and facility managers to gain greater insights into energy usage. This in turn, results in increased accuracy when it comes to billing and reporting.

Specifically designed for use in the local Australian market, the versatile three-phase energy meter can be configured for single phase and three phase applications and features on board MODBUS communications where energy data can be remotely available and accessible to energy management systems.

For added application flexibility, the energy meter can be used either as a DIN-rail mounting or a panel mounting energy meter with purpose fit accessory.

Gas prices still putting the heat on manufacturers

Chemistry Australia CEO Samantha Read has said that manufacturers in the Australian chemistry industry are not seeing an end to rising east coast gas prices.

“While there has been some important Government action, the crisis is not over,” said Read.

“If anything, there appears to be continued upward pressure both on the cost of gas and its delivery. Members are still reporting increases of between 30 per cent and 60 per cent in negotiating new gas energy contracts.

“Australia will pay a heavy price with job losses across the manufacturing sector. This is a double-whammy hitting everyday Australians who are already struggling at home with rising power and gas bills.”

Gas is particularly essential to the business of chemistry. The Australian chemistry industry uses 10 per cent of Australia’s domestic gas for its molecular properties to create a huge range of products including fertilisers for  crops, smart packaging to keep our food fresher for longer, and more.

The 2014 Deloitte Access Economics Report forecast losses of 14,500 jobs between 2014 and 2021 in net present value terms, due to rising gas costs and constrained supply.

According to Read however, there are real industry concerns that the job losses may be even higher than forecast. This is because the modelling applied was based on gas in the $8 to $10 per gigajoule range, however some manufacturers are being faced with $12 to $16 per gigajoule, or even higher.

“These shifts of a dollar or two per gigajoule don’t illustrate the full impact to businesses, where the actual dollar effect is in the hundreds of thousands, and in some cases millions, added to input costs,” said Read.

“We welcome the Federal Government’s announcement last week that the Australian Domestic Gas Safeguard Mechanism is now active. This provides some short-term supply certainty for gas buyers.

“Short-term measures help give businesses time to assess their position. But it’s the long-term vision that will ultimately decide whether a business continues operations in Australia.

“If a business can make it through this period of crisis, will there be more gas supply, at more competitive prices, into a more transparent market.

The most fundamental part of the mechanism is new gas supply, according to Read. She believes that if all states were to adopt the ACCC’s recommendation for a case-by-case assessment on projects, this would open investment and jobs growth potential.

“There has been a lack of understanding of how critical domestic gas is to job creation,” said Read.

“Australia has an abundance of gas; our ambition should be greater than just meeting current day demand. Gas can create opportunities right through Australia’s value chains, and be a catalyst for investment just as it is in other countries endowed with similar gas reserves.”

Gas is particularly important to the business of chemistry. It is important for process energy, and it is also a non-substitutable ingredient for advanced manufacturing, according to Chemistry Australia.

The Australian chemistry industry uses 10 per cent of Australia’s domestic gas for its molecular properties to create a huge range of products essential to peoples’ everyday lives. These include fertilisers for crops, cleaning products for health and hygiene in homes and hospitals, and smart packaging to keep food fresher for longer.


The power of efficient food processing

In light of Australia’s bid to reduce its carbon emissions by 2030, Steven Impey takes a look at how the food-processing sector is reacting to changing views on energy cost.

Energy consumption within the food sector is increasingly becoming a matter for concern – from the farmland where food is grown, right up to the processing methods that put packaged meals on supermarket floors.

Amid a growing energy crisis across Australia and the country’s bid to improve its carbon footprint, industry leaders are saying that now, more than ever, it is vital to react quickly.

To stave off climate change, the federal government is aiming to reduce its emissions by 26-28 per cent from its 2005 levels by the year 2030.

At the same time, power generated from the grid in mainland states is expected to rise to somewhere between 75 and 220 per cent in the next 20 years.

The question is: how are food-processing plants, and especially those that are reliant on a constant flow of energy, going to cope?

Spotting diminishing returns

Wiley, who design, build and maintain facilities, seek the latest approaches and technology to ensure they offer the best efficiency solutions.

Brett Wiskar, the company’s R&D and innovation director, believes that finding the link between the cost of energy and profitability is a pressing issue for many food processors.

“The real trick in reducing the impact and cost of energy is spotting the point of diminishing returns,” Wiskar said. “The opportunity to find power savings and wasteful systems in a manufacturing business is available to every operator in the food industry.

“To remain competitive both domestically and internationally,
our food sector has to find both the means to control energy costs and the means to lower their consumption as a percentage of output.”

Rather than deciding on a tactical expansion – for example a new product

line or facility expansion – businesses will start to give more consideration to the associated energy cost.

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 10.41.23 AM
Red meat consumption is in decline.


In turn, this enables businesses to take earlier steps to being self- sufficient in power generation and makes them better able to make tactical moves in the market.

Pressure is also being placed on companies within the supply chain to reduce greenhouse gases by – in some cases – more than 50 per cent by 2020. Among them, leaders in the meat and agricultural sectors are considering the consequences if the industry doesn’t address its energy use.

Addressing climate issues

Last year, a report by the Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC) looked at the impact increasing average temperatures are having on the condition of cattle in the processing sector.

The report explained that, while maintaining a social licence to operate can be difficult, the red meat industry is seeking to avoid costs by increasing advocacy and research into offsetting carbon emissions of animals and the environmental impact of grazing.

It also raised the issue of increasing acidity in Australian soil, which it claims is affecting an estimated 50 million hectares of agricultural land.

To address climate issues, the AMPC is working with its members to help them better understand and reduce their own energy costs, which may include undertaking regular research into new initiatives and systems.

“Australia is facing a changing natural environment with increasing incidences of extreme weather events and changing weather patterns that directly impact the industry,” an AMPC spokesperson told Food and Beverage Industry News.

“We recognise this and continue to work to raise awareness about Australia’s changing climate and the impact it is having and will have upon our sector.”

AMPC is investing in research that seeks to understand “critical vulnerabilities in the value chain” as well as investigating technology, infrastructure options and mitigation techniques to minimise the industry’s impact on the environment.

Collaborate effort

In an address at the 2XEP Energy Productivity Summit in Sydney in April, the impact the ongoing energy crisis will have on industry was top of the agenda.

“Over the last 10 years, we have seen a decline in red meat consumption,” said Carl Duncan, who is group manager for resource efficiency at beef supplier Teys Australia. “High [energy] costs and competition mean the industry needs help.

“We would be the first to put our hands up and say that, while working collaboratively with government, we all need to help work through the energy crisis we are experiencing at the moment.

“What we would like to see is consistent policies [from the government] because, with large corporate companies and the current energy crisis being so rapid, it can be difficult for them to react.”

Using renewable sources of energy is one area were Teys is managing its consumption. By diverting wastewater, they have managed to offset 20 to 30 per cent of the company’s natural gas needs across their portfolio.

“The fact is: the energy crisis is putting unsustainable pressure on the industry, with energy markets increasing from 60 to 170 per cent in the last year and natural gas is increasing too,” Duncan added.

“Throwing stones isn’t going to solve the problem, so we all need to collaborate together to help solve it.”

In most food businesses, wastewater – whether a bi-product or as a consumable – contains organic matter, which keeps it at an artificially high temperature.

“Both the elevated temperature and the organic mater are potential sources of energy available to a food production business,” Wiskar explained.

“Through the implementation
of bio-energy recovery systems, businesses are able to harvest energy locked in the organic matter suspended in their wastewater.

“Covered anaerobic ponds or closed tanks allow the biological matter to breakdown generating bio-gas, which can be burnt to create energy.

“In addition, waste heat recovery systems can allow hot water and steam to be used as a source of energy through a range of potential conversion systems.”

Expectations are changing

Simplot, based in Victoria, is one of Australia’s leading food manufacturers for some of the world’s well-known packaged and canned food brands.

Speaking at the 2xEP Summit, the company’s manager for national continuous improvement, Carmel Gilles, explained how “integrating lean processes” is helping reduce energy cost.

“At Simplot, we have created a framework for continuous development and sustainability,” Gilles said. “A system where we can audit all of our sites to find where the gaps are and that helps us generate our plans. “

Their customers are also expecting are harder drive on energy and sustainability improvements. To do this, Simplot is engaging all of its employees to help make a difference.

Wiley are working closely with the food industry, empowering more companies to follow the same example.

“Simple wins exist in most food production businesses and are, generally, easily identified by auditing the operation to determine where power is currently being consumed,” Wiskar said.

“However, just because a change in the production process might reduce energy consumption doesn’t mean savings are scalable with continued long-term positive impacts.”

Simple solutions are often powerful and within reach – whether by changing the insulation or the means of exhaust within a production facility.

In addition, business operations often feel stuck with their current level of energy usage due to the “sunk cost” fallacy, where managers are reluctant to replace equipment that may be wasteful.

“This is despite the fact that a newer, more energy-efficient system might pay for itself – and the equipment it replaced – through energy saving alone,” Wiskar added.

“Exploring energy cost reduction through innovation is rarely a waste of time.”

Turning environmental problems into profit

CST Wastewater Solutions will showcase successful waste-to-energy technologies that respond to worldwide trends towards renewables at foodPro 2017 in Sydney from July 16-19.

The GWE anaerobic digestion technologies – to be featured on Stand S9 – extract biogas from virtually any biological waste stream, including municipal food wastes from restaurants, food service facilities, grocery stores, and municipal solid waste, as well as organic wastes from industrial processing facilities, food and beverage plants and agribusinesses.

The environmentally advanced technologies transform waste organic materials and wastewaters from an environmental liability into a profit centre, says CST Wastewater Solutions Managing Director, Mike Bambridge.

One of the technologies, GWE’s RAPTOR (which stands for Rapid Transformation of Organic Residues), is a powerful liquid-state anaerobic digestion process that consists of enhanced pre-treatment followed by multi-step biological fermentation.

RAPTOR is ideally suited to both industrial and municipal applications in Australasia, with one of its most recent installations demonstrating its potential for similar applications here, said Bambridge, whose company distributes the Global Water Engineering RAPTOR technology throughout Australia and New Zealand.

GWE anaerobic technology success story

A waste-to-energy project undertaken by the world’s largest integrated pineapple operation, Del Monte Philippines Inc. (DMPI), which has exceeded even the high effluent quality targets originally set for the job.

The Global Water Engineering (GWE) wastewater treatment installation (pictured) at the Cagayan de Oro pineapple canning plant has achieved 93 percent organic pollution (COD) removal in its anaerobic reactors, producing in the process enough green energy (methane rich biogas) to power two 1.4 MW generating electrical power generator units (or gensets).

DMPI – which accounts for about 10 per cent of the world’s annual production of processed pineapple products – will benefit from environmentally clean electricity to replace fossil fuels typically used in electrical power plants.

And the waste heat from the gensets is also put to use to heat up steam boiler feed water, which is a further reduction of fossil fuel use in the factory. Given the high prices of electricity form the Grid and the sometimes erratic supply, the plant will achieve rapid ROI payback, said Bambridge.

“Similar energy supply and price issues exist in Australasia, so the technology is highly relevant here,” he said.

The technology involved in this case study applies not only to pineapple production but also to a wide range of Australian and New Zealand food industries, including livestock and horticultural operations including fruit and vegetables, grain crops and any agribusiness with a biological waste stream.


Organic waste to energy projects on show in Sydney

Visitors to Ozwater in Sydney last week had a chance to see CST Wastewater Solutions’ latest waste-to-energy technologies.

Environmentally advanced technologies transform waste organic materials and wastewaters from an environmental liability into a profit centre, says CST Wastewater Solutions Managing Director, Mike Bambridge.

One of the technologies, GWE’s Rapid Transformation of Organic Residues(RAPTOR), is a liquid-state anaerobic digestion process that consists of enhanced pre-treatment followed by multi-step biological fermentation.

RAPTOR is suited to both industrial and municipal applications in Australasia, with one of its most recent installations demonstrating its potential for similar applications here, says Bambridge, whose company distributes the technology throughout Australia and New Zealand.

RAPTOR has been used successfully in several projects around the world. One example is an organic-waste-to-energy project in Connecticut USA, which moved into production late last year. It converted up to 40,000 tons of organic waste annually into environmentally green energy and dry bio fertiliser.


The plant also avoided the need to dump the waste into landfill, from where organic wastes can seep into water tables of surrounding urban and rural development.

The Quantum Biopower Plant serving the central Connecticut region incorporates its GWE RAPTOR rapid anaerobic digestion system at the heart of its process that harvests mixed organic wastes for conversion into enough biogas (primarily methane) to generate 1.2 MW of electricity and up to 5.6 tons a day of dry bio fertiliser.

Biogas extracted from the refuse replaces fossil and other fuels typically used to generate electricity for the nearby Town of Southington, CT, reducing its environmental footprint and helping the State meet its renewable energy goal of generating 27 per cent of the state’s electricity from renewable energy resources by 2020.

The Southington plant’s biogas production of more than 420,000Nft3 (about 12,000 Nm3 ) a day @62.5 per cent methane (CH4 ) is equivalent to 8000kg a day of fuel oil, or more than 3000 tons of the fossil fuel a year, projected to be worth  over $A10 million in the plant’s first decade of service.

The company responsible for the installation, GW&E (a subsidiary of Global Water Engineering Engineering) has also completed another waste-to-energy plant in Canada and is currently completing another in the Caribbean that converts food waste and a form of grass to energy.

As well as profit and environmental benefits, this technology provides consistent and reliable base load power, which is not always possible with alternative green energy technologies, such as wind and solar. Further expansion of the facility to 80,000 tonnes/yr is planned, with the additional biogas to be converted to renewable natural gas and injected into the local gas pipeline network.

GWE anaerobic technologies have been successfully deployed on diverse organic and agribusiness waste streams produced by industries including food and beverage processing, starch and fermentation industry, pulp & paper and many other type of agro-industry. GWE has successfully built and commissioned scores of biogas utilisation plants for clients worldwide over the past 15 years, while CST Wastewater Technology anaerobic digestion installations in in Australia and New Zealand include meat, dairy, fruit processing and brewery production.

The technologies are also suitable for processing biological waste produced by a wide range of specific user types, including universities, grocery chains, restaurants, food transporters, hospitals, sports arenas, large office complexes, commercial buildings and large residential complexes.





Turnbull promises manufacturers new gas deal

The government has promised to halve the price manufacturers pay for gas to ensure affordable supplies across the industry.

Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull has noted that 65,000 jobs which are reliant on gas are at risk and would remain that way until action was taken.

The government has announced that Resource minister Matt Canavan will have new powers to “block exports” unless there are adequate supplies to meet Australia’s needs.

“It will ensure that the price of gas in Australia is at levels comparable to that in the international market because it is a global commodity,” Mr Turnbull told ABC radio.

“But what we’ve seen is because of these anticipated shortfalls, gas suppliers have been proposing contract prices which are really way too high.

“They are as much as four or five times the price per gigajoule, which is the metric, that are being offered in the United States.

“It’ll be cheaper than the prices that are being offered now, people are being offered prices of $20 a gigajoule, it should be around half that or less.”

While LNG exporters have contractual obligations they must meet, Turnbull also said that Australia’s free-trade agreements gave the government a right to protect local industry from gas shortages.

“They will not be able to export gas if that has the consequence of reducing the availability of gas for the Australian market,” Turnbull continued.

“This is a national interest matter, it is a short-term solution to a longer-term problem. The longer-term challenge that we face is we are not producing enough gas on the east coast — that is because of bans on gas exploration and development in Victoria above all and to a lesser extent in NSW.”

Hiked energy prices will force larger grocery bill, Woolworths warns

Rising energy costs will force the food giant Woolworths to hike its grocery prices, its CEO has warned. 

Speaking at a business forum in Melbourne, Brad Banducci said the company’s $360 million energy bill was increasing as the company placed a higher priority on its health foods. 

“We manage what we can manage with energy efficiency,” Banducci was quoted in an AFR report. “But given the cost increases that are coming through right now, we are trying to outrun a bear, but I am not sure we can.

“We will have to in some way, very cautiously and carefully, pass those through to our customers, unfortunately.”

“We are doing a lot of work on at the moment, and I just don’t know the answer right now. But it is a concern. It’s just a question of timing.”

A price hike due to energy cost would effectively end a long run of falling grocery prices in Australia, the report explained.

While research showed 60 per cent of shoppers want to buy healthier food, it tends to be fresher and requires chilling while organic foods are double the average cost of alternative products.

Banducci claimed that with a greater emphasis on healthier products, increased energy prices would eventually outweigh the company’s savings.

“We do need to make these products affordable,” Banducci continued, although he also added that, despite the high prices, increasing the number of “good for you” products had demonstrated a drive in sales.

“What we’ve been trying to address is that customers need products that are affordable and they need trust on price,” he said. “You are not seeing a profit shift from one side of the supply chain to the other.”

Govt plans $2b boost to Snowy Hydro

The Government has revealed a $2b plan to boost energy generated by the Snowy Hydro Scheme by 50 per cent.

As the AFR reports, the proposed plan would involve a new series of tunnels and power stations to better utilise the existing Snowy Hydro infrastructure, rather than buid new dams.

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull claimed that the new plan will add 2000mW of power to the scheme’s existing 4100mW output and will power 500,000 homes.

Four different design options using the Scheme’s existing dams will be looked at. The leading options are to rework the Tantangara Reservoir and the Talbingo Reservoir.

Turnbull said that his plan is better than South Australia’s than the giant battery storage facility that SA’s premier Jay Weatherill has unveiled.

“In one hour it could produce 20 times the 100MW per hour expected from the battery proposed by the South Australian government, but would deliver it constantly for almost a week, or 350,000 MWh over seven days,” Turnbull said.

However, the state is unlikely to back away from its plan. It wants to build South Australia’s generation capacity and contribution to the National Energy Market so it can export excess energy to Australia’s eastern seaboard.

Image: Snowy Hydro

Energy policy could see jobs go offshore – report

A new Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) report, Energy shock: No gas, no power, no future?, concludes that Australia’s energy policy risks sending Australian jobs offshore.

The report finds that businesses and households will see an increase in costs, wholesale electricity prices are almost doubling and spot prices are becoming more volatile. It also found that 51 per cent of households expected price rises in the coming year and only 4 per cent expected a decrease. 

Ai Group CEO Innes Willox said that the current forecast increases are considerable.

“The dollar impact of the current and forecast price increase is staggering. Once fully passed through, the electricity and gas price increases will cost energy users as a whole $10-$12 billion per year.  Households will pay up to an extra $3.6 billion a year, and business up to $8.7 billion a year,” Willox said. 

“Within business, energy-intensive manufacturers will be particularly hard hit, paying up to $4 billion a year. This will worsen margin pressures for business, with some manufacturers questioning their ongoing viability as a result. Such businesses will be looking closely at options to move operations offshore, reduce their local workforces or both.”

The future of solar energy in Australia

Solgen Energy Group’s executive general manager David Naismith talks about renewable energy, the solar industry and the challenges associated with the growing solar power storage sector.

Could you tell us more about Solgen’s business direction here in Australia and what are your plans for your customers here?

David Naismith: Solgen Energy Group is a leading solar engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) group providing turnkey renewable solutions in the commercial and industrial sector. While the basics of solar power are generally well understood, the applications are growing. We’ve completed projects covering large ground-mount solar farms, multi-story solar car parks with charging stations, solar pumping for agriculture – the applications are enormous and the market is demanding more innovative solutions. We have a very busy New Ventures team that spends all its time vetting product and opportunities, continually looking for the next solution for our clients.

What is Solgen’s position with regards to Industrial Internet of Things? (i.e. The need for cyber physical systems, Internet of Things, cloud technology)

David Naismith: We have seen a general commoditisation of products in the solar and storage space. Differentiation for solar is generally determined by the underlying design and experience of the vendor. Storage however is currently enjoying a differentiation by brand. Over time this will change and storage is likely to become extremely commoditised.

The leaders in the space will be the data owners and software developers that control the interaction between the grid, solar, storage and integration of consumption patterns. It is this platform that will lower electricity price delivery to the consumer by managing where that power comes from, and opens the opportunity for peer-to-peer energy trading. In addition, the platform will learn consumption patterns of the business and interact with machinery to best manage energy demand.

Why will solar energy be essential for businesses in future?

David Naismith: Solar power effectively acts as a long-term hedge on energy prices. Solar power is able to deliver electricity over 20 years at approximately $0.06 per kilowatt hour in today’s money – that’s a very stable savings both now and well into the future. Incorporating solar power into a business’s energy mix gives the business greater control over their rates moving forward. In addition, customers are demanding to source their products from businesses that can demonstrate manufacturing techniques that are environmentally sustainable at an efficient price. Solar delivers in both of these areas – renewable energy that delivers long-term savings to businesses.

Why would customers buy Solgen’s products over a competitor?

David Naismith: Solgen Energy Group stands out from its competitors by its experience in delivering some of Australia’s most iconic solar projects nation-wide. Our reputation for installing industrial solar panels is backed by our performance of projects in the field. We have carried out major rollouts for the National Broadband Network right through to food manufacturers in the Northern Territory. We have a simple and transparent commercial process for every industry that is renowned for delivering certainty around generation and financial returns.

Is Solgen looking to exploit economic opportunities from the home battery revolution? 

David Naismith: Storage is a very exciting space. While still relatively expensive, the cost of energy storage is expected to fall rapidly over the next few years and we are already seeing evidence of these price drops. Current pricing means the business case in a commercial environment is difficult. However, where storage begins to play a role in demand management as well as shifting consumption patterns, we will see increased demand in the commercial space.

What supplementary service does Solgen offer customers? 

David Naismith: Solgen Energy Group focuses on providing solar solutions to the commercial and industrial sector. Beyond this core market, the group also offers services for medium scale (megawatt) solar power plants and more niche markets such as solar water pumping solutions for agri-businesses, solar-hybrid solutions for remote communities and mines, and power factor correction for businesses with high inductive loads.

PACE: How do customers access product maintenance? 

David Naismith: As a contract requirement, all customers are sent operation and maintenance manuals following the installation completion. These manuals are compiled in-house and are specific to every system. Contained within are maintenance schedules for the system, as well as shutdown and isolation procedures. Data sheets and warranties for every component used are attached to the manual, providing the customer with more in depth information on the technical specifications and maintenance duties for every part of the system.

In the event a customer requires further advice, or product is showing a fault or requires comprehensive technical maintenance, the customer would call their Solgen project manager that is always on hand.

What challenges do renewable companies face in competing against established interests like Big Oil and Big Coal?

David Naismith: Fossil fuels are no longer seen as a ‘competitor’ to renewable energy. Renewables have carved their own space and work in harmony alongside traditional energy. Fossil fuels face far greater challenges than renewables, simply because they are reliant on a finite resource, uncertain markets and enormous amounts of infrastructure to deliver. That infrastructure requires significant maintenance just to keep it running each day. Solar power on the other hand, has no moving parts and simply does its thing with exceptionally low maintenance requirements.

How do companies judge what level of solar power can meet their energy needs?

David Naismith: We assess the consumption patterns of a business over a minimum 12 month period and overlay a system specification that best meets the energy needs of the business. In most cases, the system is shaped on delivering energy that can be consumed in the business without exporting to the grid. However, even with the right blend of export to the grid, that can still deliver the highest financial returns. Our primary aim is to deliver the best financial outcome to the business.

When do you think renewable projects will not need government subsidies such as the renewable energy target (RET), ARENA support or grants from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation?

David Naismith: Anything that can contribute to higher returns is naturally a factor in our clients’ decision to implement solar. However, increasing grid energy prices and the lower cost of components mean that financial returns have gradually become strong enough as a standalone business case. This is why the Renewable Energy Target incentives are beginning to unwind. Our clients want to see the financials stack up without too much reliance on government policy.

With state governments ramping up renewable energy targets, is 100 per cent renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal etc.) a realistic proposition or not?

David Naismith: Not only is it possible, it makes sense and delivers a far more stable outcome that is sustainable well into the future. Intermittency issues associated with wind and solar are now being addressed through significant advances in energy storage. Furthermore, with peer-to-peer energy trading, we are no longer reliant on single points of failure in delivery of our energy.

How much human labour is needed in future on renewable energy products?

David Naismith: The Climate Council recently noted that a 50 per cent Renewable Electricity target scenario in 2030 will lead to over 28,000 new jobs, or almost 50 per cent more employment than the current targets would deliver and 80 per cent of these jobs are an addition to the economy.

What is the next step in renewable energy – e.g. how do you see all the elements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution linking together? Do you see renewable energy linking up with quantum computing?

David Naismith: We have gradually seen barriers to purchase fall away, primarily driven by advances in technology that have driven significant reductions in price. This has been key in placing solar on a level playing field with grid power. We have gone from an industry that wasn’t really solving a problem other than green credentials to one that is becoming a critical part of any business’s energy mix.

We are in a very exciting space. Business and consumers will continue to pressure the grid to become more service-based and less supply-centric. That service will create unlimited opportunities for peer-to-peer, business-to-business energy trading where combinations of renewable energy, storage and cloud-based technologies will mean that businesses will have far greater control over how they consume energy and what they pay for it. We are a very progressive organisation and while solar will remain our core business, we need to keep innovating across its application and be mindful of adjacent technologies that in combination will maximise results for our clients.

What is the potential for solar microgeneration and people going off grid? What are the implications for Solgen and energy companies of Microgen?

David Naismith: We are seeing a large uptake of solar-hybrid systems that effectively allow people to come off-grid. This can be in combination with diesel generation or simply solar and battery storage.


*David Naismith is a founder of Solgen Energy Group with close to 10 years of experience across some of Australia’s leading solar projects. David has spent more than 10 years in corporate finance followed by his role as Chief Financial Officer of a technology group listed on both the Nasdaq and London Stock Exchange. David’s finance background provides a unique blend of financial and project development insight behind the drivers of deployment of solar power. David holds a Bachelor of Commerce, an MBA from Macquarie Graduate School of Management and is a chartered accountant.


Meridian and Whittaker’s celebrate commitment to renewable energy

New Zealand chocolate maker Whittaker’s and Meridian Energy have launched a Special Edition Giveaway ‘Brooklyn Block’ chocolate to celebrate their new partnership, which is based on a shared commitment to renewable energy.

Whittaker’s has chosen Meridian as its electricity provider because it only generates power from 100 per cent renewable energy sources – wind and water.

“The celebration Brooklyn Block is named after Meridian’s iconic Brooklyn Turbine, which alone generates enough electricity to power 60 per cent of Whittaker’s total chocolate production each year. We love the fact that Meridian only generate from pure ingredients, like Wellington wind,” said Whittaker’s Marketing Manager, Holly Whittaker.

The partnership with Meridian also provides an opportunity to identify any potential energy efficiency options that may contribute to continuous improvement in Whittaker’s sustainable business practice.

“Customers have choice – whether it’s over chocolate or electricity. Whittaker’s share our commitment to the best ingredients and best business practices, with renewable energy at the heart of both. This can make a real difference for customers,” said Meridian’s Neal Barclay.

As well as a shared commitment to renewable energy, there is a natural synergy between Whittaker’s and Meridian, with both companies being Wellington-based and known for their engagement with consumers and communities.

Over the next week Whittaker’s and Meridian will join forces to provide some unique opportunities for consumers with some great prizes including the Brooklyn Block and a year’s free electricity up for grabs. The Brooklyn Block is exclusively available in select Brooklyn stores and via a limited Whittaker’s and Meridian giveaway.