Energy–efficient food processing increases savings and reduces carbon
New Zealand has a proud history in being one of the world’s largest dairy and meat exporters, producing high quality products for an international market.
And while agriculture is a significant and highly valued contributor to our national economy, meat and dairy production is mostly reliant on energy intensive and high carbon emitting processes.
With more than half of the approximately 200 plants nation-wide using coal-fired boilers, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates meat and dairy processing alone consumes 13 petajoules of coal – that’s 62 per cent of the coal used in industry!
As a country, New Zealand benefits when meat and dairy heat plants reduce their energy costs, bolster their international reputation in terms of carbon impact, and mitigate their wider environmental impact.
While most meat and dairy plants have done energy audits and know opportunities exist, many don’t have resources or expertise to maximise these energy efficiency opportunities. Research shows that the biggest opportunities are in energy efficiency projects, which generate double the savings of energy savings alone.
To ensure businesses get the support they need, EECA Business has developed the Lower Carbon Meat and Dairy Programme to help the sector to evaluate and understand commercial and carbon benefits of energy efficiency.
To achieve this, EECA Business, along with our industry experts, will work with owners to identify energy saving opportunities – and work out a plan to achieve them. Meat and dairy processors can save energy and reduce emissions through a variety of energy efficiency options, for example: Fuel switching – coal or oil to natural gas or fossil fuel to wood Heat recovery – using a high temperature heat pump or recovery of waste heat Boiler upgrade – installing a more efficient boiler and additional economiser Biogas capture and utilisation (i.e. pond cover and gas cleaning and combustion infrastructure) Heat distribution upgrades – condensate return or heat line, steam trap, buffer tank insulation Funding is also available for scoping the feasibility of these kinds of carbon emission reduction opportunities and building a compelling business case for investment, for up to 50 meat and dairy processing sites across New Zealand.
EECA Business will fund up to 75 per cent of the costs, up to a maximum of $15,000 per site. Recipients of this funding will contribute around 25 per cent in cash or management time and resources to the project. The target is for businesses to save the equivalent of $700,000 in energy costs each year – about $70,000 per site.
For businesses that lack the in-house resource to produce compelling feasibility studies and business cases on energy efficiency and carbon reduction initiatives, EECA Business has developed a Guide to Writing Business Cases and Feasibility Studies for programme partners in the Lower Carbon Meat and Dairy Programme.
The guide covers how to approach a business case, the information to include, working with clients, and further useful resources. This guidance will help develop high-quality business cases that quantify co-benefits, align with company strategy, and provide the information required by management to make decisions.
Once the business cases have been prepared, EECA Business will work with processorsto support them take action, through advice, information to staff, and showcasing achievements resulting from the projects.
The Lower Carbon Meat and Dairy Programme is expected to save an estimated 7,000 tonnes of carbon each year, which is equivalent to the carbon emissions released by 2,200 cars on New Zealand roads every year.
By partnering with EECA Business, meat and dairy plants can realise significant opportunities to save money and reduce carbon emissions through more efficient use of energy.