Equipment key to slashing kitchen running costs

A number of senior industry bodies, including CESA, have come together to publish a report that uses real kitchen data to identify ways in which contract caterers can slash energy usage by making the right equipment choices.

DEFRA, Carbon Trust, AEA and other industry leaders say that, for the first time, there is now published evidence aimed at understanding the energy use of commercial kitchens, integrated with the operator behavioural challenges that the hospitality industry needs to adopt in order to cut energy use and carbon emissions.

Over the last year, the Carbon Trust has worked with contract caterers such as Sodexo, Elior, Aramark and Caterlink to identify more energy efficient ways of running kitchens, with the potential to save £90m or the equivalent of 425,000 tonnes CO2 a year.

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“More than a quarter of the UK’s carbon emissions come from industry and we’ve got to find new opportunities to reduce them,” said Al-Karim Govindji, technology acceleration manager of Innovations at the Carbon Trust.

“Our estimates suggest that over 80% of sites could replace electric combis with gas combis. The implementation cost is the additional cost for the gas combi assuming that the alternative replacement would be an electric combi. Such replacements across the industry would cost a typical site £3,000 but could have a three-year payback, saving the sector £14m per year or 60,000 tonnes CO2 per year.”

The report concluded that refrigeration is the second largest user of energy in the sector and this is driven by the installed refrigeration capacity at each site.

However, researchers found that energy use does not rise linearly with capacity, but drops off as capacity increases due to the greater energy efficiency of the larger units.

Upgrading refrigeration single and double door refrigeration cabinets with energy efficiencies equal to the Market Transformation Programme best practice benchmark standards would give a payback of 1.5 years and could save the industry £13m in energy costs per year, said the report.

“Based on the evidence contained within the report, the foodservice sector is now better placed to build a strategy with government and its agencies to bring about real change within the industry,” said Keith Warren, director of CESA. “Manufacturers can use this data to develop and market products that will reduce a commercial kitchen’s energy consumption.”

The report said that innovation opportunities include use of sensors in extraction linked to variable speed drives that can automatically vary the fan speed with the cooking load.

Additionally, a number of new business models are possible, including incentives for clients to invest in efficient equipment; caterers to adopt best practice in using equipment; and the transfer of energy management responsibility to the caterer with the installation of sub-metering.

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