With so much ‘greenwash’ to contend with, how can operators really make sure they are getting true value for money when sourcing energy efficient catering equipment? In the third part of this special FEJ report, we provide a unique breakdown of what operators need to bear in mind when specifically seeking out energy efficient refrigeration.
Electrically-powered refrigeration equipment operating for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, has the potential to consume bags of energy. In this context, the focus needs to move to using less energy within refrigeration systems to reduce both running costs and carbon emissions.
Technology has moved forward considerably over the last few years and it is now highly practical and cost-effective to utilise the free waste heat from a catering refrigeration system to produce hot water for the kitchen. Integrating this type of waste heat recycling system provides immediate savings by displacing the costs of gas or electric heating — the energy to make hot water is constantly produced by a refrigeration system but is currently sent to waste!
One of the companies at the forefront of delivering highly efficient refrigeration solutions is Green Cooling. Director, Garry Broadbent, says that refrigeration systems must be correctly specified and designed to match the needs of the application as they simply don’t fit into a ‘one-size-fits-all’ philosophy.
It is now highly practical to utilise the free waste heat from a catering refrigeration system to produce hot water for the kitchen”
The coldroom itself must be of adequate specification in terms of providing the highest level of practical insulation to reduce the cooling demand, but more importantly the 24/7/365 energy consuming electrically-powered refrigeration equipment must be efficient and correctly specified.
The specification of the refrigeration design must take into account the demands of the application and match those demands with the most efficient system available. “A good example of this approach would be to look at a kitchen with three coldrooms and to consider the specification of a single centralised refrigeration system instead of three separate individual refrigeration units,” explains Broadbent.
“The single centralised unit would have the capability to operate efficiently on minimum load with an inverter-driven compressor system, modulating to very efficiently match the actual cooling load of each coldroom. This design can provide energy savings of more than 20% per year in comparison to the three individual standalone refrigeration units, and this is achieved simply by minimising unnecessary energy use by good design.”
Operators can benefit from existing UK tax allowances on the capital cost of energy efficient refrigeration cabinets, but Broadbent notes that achieving the most optimal solution boils down to having a full understanding of a kitchen’s refrigeration demands from the outset.
“A kitchen refrigeration energy survey would obviously include the cooling requirements, but also the kitchen’s hot water requirements, as the objective of any project should be to achieve the maximum level of efficiency from the cooling and heating system as a whole by recycling the free waste heat from refrigeration to provide hot water.”
How can an operator ‘future-proof’ their refrigeration systems to ensure they remain ‘green’ for the next five to 10 years?
“This really is a key question and it could easily fall into the ‘elephant in the room’ category. From now until 2030 there will be an accelerating focus on removing ozone-depleting refrigerants from all industries and applications. Put simply, this means that refrigeration equipment could be installed now and yet during its operational life (to allow it to remain functional) it could require costly and time-consuming modifications or at worst become obsolete due to the refrigerant used within the system being phased out.
“A number of high ozone-depleting refrigerants are used within foodservice refrigeration systems, so operators can ‘future proof’ their installations by simply selecting systems with a natural refrigerant that does not present the risk of phase-out.”
3 key things to take away
- A one-size-fits-all approach won’t work. Match the demands of the application with the most efficient systems available.
- Waste heat from a catering refrigeration system can now be used to produce hot water for a kitchen.
- The phase out of ozone-depleting refrigerants means operators should look at natural refrigerants to avoid obsolescence.