Buying Refrigeration on Demand

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Due to rising energy and maintenance costs, the expense of operating a refrigeration systems is continuously increasing. The complexity of managing this aspect is also becoming more difficult for owners to understand. Measuring efficiency is very difficult and understanding maintenance requirements of a modern plant to achieve optimum efficiency even more so. This results in a substantial amount of electricity being wasted by ineffective systems, combined with a high maintenance bill. This according to Dawie Kriel, head of Energy Partners heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) & refrigeration division.

“The installation costs of refrigeration systems are generally a significant portion of the capital requirement in any manufacturing business, and the cost of upgrading to newer systems every few years, is generally too high for most firms. Consequently, they often find themselves having to do more maintenance more regularly, costing the business more money but also time and loss of quality.”

Maintain and upgrade

Dawie adds that maintaining and running a large refrigeration system usually requires man-hours that could be better focused on the core activities of the business.

A more viable solution for most businesses, is to buy cooling from a service provider whose core business is to operate the refrigeration system. “The service provider’s responsibility is to properly maintain and upgrade the refrigeration system, and the business pays an agreed Rand-per-kilowatt-hours-refrigeration (R/kWhR) rate on a pay-as-you-use basis,” This provides an inherent efficiency service level, due to the agreed price nature of the cost of cooling.

“This kind of option makes a lot of sense especially in the food retail and dairy industries as well as the logistics arena, but other facilities that have a refrigeration load for most of the year are prime candidates for this kind of conversion,” Dawie adds.

Rate per cooling unit

“We launched the first such solution in June last year, whereby we install our own refrigeration units for the businesses at no upfront cost to them, and then operate the system like a utility. The client pays us an agreed rate per cooling unit.”

One obstacle for most systems however, is in accurately calculating how many units the client uses. “Measuring refrigeration has been one of the trickier parts of an endeavour such as this, and initially it was one of the major challenges we had in making this kind of service viable. The only existing systems that are accurate enough are too expensive, which is why we developed and patented an affordable, accurate meter to accompany the system we install.”

Installed cooling systems are also equipped with access to a web- and smartphone-based app, enabling clients to keep track of performance, key temperatures, billing and the energy consumption of the plant.

Old or new

This solution can be applied to a new facility, but also to an existing refrigeration plant that needs to improve efficiency and reliability.

Energy Partners also shares the operational cost savings with existing users in the form of pay-outs of up to 10% of the refrigeration sold at the end of each contract term, while clients maintain the right to take over ownership of the plant at any time.

“By understanding the fundamental dilemma our customers face in attempting to reduce the cost of cooling, we identify opportunities to reduce technical and financial inefficiencies in the energy industry and invest in these opportunities,” Dawie concludes.

Energy Partners, www.energypartners.co.za

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