• Helping wineries become energy efficient

Helping wineries become energy efficient

19 May 2016 - 3:52pm

When it comes to winemaking, there is only one thing more important than the grapes, and that is the temperatures at which they are kept during the process.

http://www.afr.com/personal-finance/helping-wineries-become-energy-efficient-20150306-13xjik

With white wine production, the crushed grapes typically need chilling to four to five degrees Celsius before fermentation. The temperature will directly influence the quality of the wine: ferment too hot or too cold and your wine will suffer.

So it makes sense that refrigeration can account for as much as 50-70 per cent (according to the Australian Wine Research Research Institute) of a winery's power bill. With electricity costs perpetually rising, it is little wonder there is considerable interest in decreasing refrigeration-related electricity use and/or costs within businesses that rely on it.

The use of ammonia refrigeration, as opposed to hydrocarbon refrigeration, is one proven energy cost saver that Adelaide industrial refrigeration specialist Cold Logic has taken on board and adapted to suit both the food and beverage industry.

 

Cold Logic's installation of a high-efficiency ammonia refrigeration plant has helped at least one well-known winery almost halve its annual energy costs. One of its oldest clients, Coopers Brewery, is also a big beneficiary of its energy-saving solutions, along with Thomas Foods International and Arnotts.

But it is not just improved technology that has enabled Cold Logic to get to where it is today. It is the constant call for quality service, says Cold Logic managing director Jeff Cannan. Anyone who has ever had a refrigerator full of food break down will understand the importance of getting help quickly.

Not much has changed on the service side of business since Cannan trained as a refrigeration mechanic 40 years ago, before starting Cold Logic with David Lane 10 years later.

With two panel vans and a bunch of tools, they used to service the equipment of clients in the beverage, food processing and cold-storage industries. "Our clients had a high level of trust in what we did and have really driven the business. They trusted us to build their next expansions,"  Cannan says.

 

One of those clients was Wirra Wirra Vineyards, which had seen its energy prices double between 2008 and 2013.

It engaged Cold Logic to explore the options to upgrade the refrigeration plant to cater for increased production, better sustainability and to see what energy savings could be obtained.

A new high-efficiency ammonia refrigeration plant was installed to cater for a planned 2500-tonne grape crush.

While the upfront costs of what amounts to a much larger plant can be high, the payback can be quick, Cannan says.

 

Wirra Wirra CEO Andrew Kay says the energy and maintenance savings from the new refrigeration plant  was worth nearly $25,000 a year.

The new plant – together with upgraded brine lines and solar panels – has nearly halved Wirra Wirra's annual energy bill, he says.

Having started in the days when South Australia dominated the wine-making industry, it is not surprising Cold Logic has considerable experience in wine refrigeration.

Cold Logic director of sales and marketing Eddie Lane estimates the company has helped chill 655 million cases of Australian wine since it started.

 

The expansion of the wine industry across all state and territory borders has taken the company with it, and into the food processing and cold storage industries.

Since it was established, Cold Logic has constructed 280,000 square metres of cold storage facilities – the equivalent of 14 Melbourne Cricket grounds.

As Asia continues to develop and consumption of Australian grown foods increases in the region, Cold Logic is hoping its business will grow.

Its biggest push will be into Victoria – the heartland of food and beverage production and distribution. "The more food that is grown, the more refrigeration will be needed," Lane says.

 

While technology means Cold Logic can control the temperatures at any plant it has installed remotely from a smartphone, service on the ground will continue to be essential.

Equipment failure is something that nobody likes.

"If you have got $2-$3 million worth of product in a cold store and the refrigeration stops, there is a lot of panicking," says Cannan. "For every half hour, it is a real cost, so we aim to get there as quickly as possible".

Just like with a domestic fridge, there is no way of telling when a system might fail.

"Like a car engine there are lots of components, and equipment failure does happen so the service side is critical," Cannan says.

As the company heads towards $25 million in revenue by 2020 (a 20 per cent increase), it expects staff numbers to grow from 47. Perhaps telling of the grassroots nature of the business, most of those jobs will be in service.

Five benefits of energy management

Implementation of systems and processes for better energy management can build business value by:

  • Unlocking significant savings: taking a strategic approach to energy efficiency may lead to project opportunities with attractive payback periods and ongoing reductions in energy expenditure.
  • Reducing exposure to future energy price increases: energy-efficiency improvements offset the impact of rising energy costs, making energy-efficient organisations less vulnerable to future price increases. Energy-efficiency improvements deliver ongoing financial benefits. The return on investment for these projects improves as energy prices increase.
  • Improving risk management: the business risks associated with rising energy prices and inefficient energy use include reputation damage, price volatility and operating cost risks, supply chain risks, energy security and climate change risk.
  • Boosting productivity: businesses are increasingly recognising the link between energy performance and business productivity. Understanding this link can lead to reduced resource consumption. Improvements in energy productivity are often accompanied by improvements in the use of materials, water and other resources.
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions: improving energy productivity and exploring different sources of energy can dramatically reduce an organisation's carbon footprint and associated costs.

The Energy Efficiency Exchange (eex.gov.au)

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