SCOoPE encourages cooperatives to use renewable energy
In the current context, a number of economic, regulatory, environmental and commercial reasons are leading food industry companies to increasingly focus on the intelligent management of energy. European CO2 policy has become both more stringent and more costly. Consumer demand for "clean" and traced products is growing. Competition is constantly becoming more globalized and "sourcing" more demanding. All of these reasons mean that controlled and reasoned management of energy and the corresponding economic savings have become core priorities.
Investing so as to save money thanks to cleaner energy: this is what the European SCOoPE project is offering, under coordination by the Cooperativas Agro-alimentarias de España, with the short-term objective of reducing by 10 to 15% the energy consumption of food industry installations within the target sectors of the project, particularly those linked to cooperative organizations, whilst maintaining their current levels of production.
Many companies are involved in SCOoPE: in Spain (28), France (20), Portugal (8), Greece (8) as well as in Italy (6), Denmark and Sweden.
The SCOoPE project is targeting four sectors: processing industries producing fruit and vegetable juices and paste (notably tomato paste), the meat industry, the milk industry and the grain-drying sector. In the case of fruit and vegetable processing operators (juice and paste), the industrial processes used require high energy consumption. The stages that are known to consume the highest levels of energy are the heat treatment processes (pasteurization, evaporation, sterilization, etc.) that are traditionally used in the manufacturing of juices and pastes.
A benchmarking analysis of their energy consumptions based on obtaining a number of KPI (Key Performance Indicators) will be implemented in each participating cooperative. Each food processing site that is interested can also carry out this analysis thanks to the self-evaluation software that has been developed in the context of this project. SCOoPE will encourage the implementation of transverse and specific innovative technologies that have been tried and tested in other industrial sectors, but have never been used in the target sectors of the project.
Scheme of the thermal energy Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in the fruit and vegetables sector, according to the four levels, which are, from the lowest to the highest: industry level, product level, process level, and equipment level.
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On the other hand, the project is aiming at bigger savings in the medium-term with new affordable intelligent energy solutions, specifically by implementing “Collaborative Energy Management Systems” in operational environments. This will take advantage of complementarities and synergies among the industrial plants involved – presenting similar characteristics or proximity – and will use them for the improvement of their joint energy efficiency. For this purpose, 6 pilot industrial clusters in 5 different countries will be set up and used for assessing the improvements in overall energy consumption and associated costs that could be achieved by using common procedures based on the ISO 50.001 standard and supported by specific software developed by the project.
Moreover, for the achievement of these objectives, the project implies the direct involvement of equipment suppliers and financial institutions that enable the necessary investments to enhance energy efficiency in agro-food industries. These contacts between food industry operators and other key stake-holders (technology providers and financial institutions) will also boost further collaborations between them, beyond the project’s lifetime.
Finally, the project will deliver a reservoir of specially qualified human resources, fact-based knowledge and techniques, and customized software tools, all of which will be useful for and applicable to thousands of other European companies in the same agro-food subsectors or dealing with the same industrial processes. In this sense, strong dissemination and exchange of experiences from directly involved businesses to similar European companies will spur on the change in managers’ behaviour needed for a systematic focus on the continuous improvement of energy efficiency.
The SCOoPE project is financially supported by the European Horizon 2020 program (from which it will receive EUR 1.79 million), which is due to come to an end in 2019. Four Extremadura companies, including the CarVeg plant (Apis, ex-Carcesa) at Merida (jointly owned by Acopaex and Tomates del Guadiana), are among the 81 enterprises that have been selected for the project.
According to the Spanish press, which was invited to a presentation on the topic of renewable energies held last 14 February at the Polytechnic University of Madrid, this initiative should be extended to close on 100 cooperative organizations in seven countries of the European Union.