Food and drink sector 'embracing renewable energy'

25 June 2013

Posted by Michelle Devonshire

The food and drink sector is embracing renewable energy solutions in order to cut the amount of money it spends on electricity.

Analysis by SmartestEnergy - from figures supplied by Ofgem - has found that food and drink manufacturers generated £32 million worth of green power in 2012, which represents a 53 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of on-site electricity projects, Food and Manufacture reports.

The bulk of this figure came from anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities, which made up 67 per cent of renewable energy capacity. AD plants work by using microorganisms to break down biodegradable waste and this is then used as a means of power.

Iain Robertson, generation sales manager at SmartestEnergy, revealed there were 38 large-scale projects listed in the sector in 2012. Some 14 of those involved solar panels - the most popular type of renewable power - followed by biomass boilers and wind turbines.

"For businesses faced with steep rises in energy costs, investing in their own renewable energy projects can generate significant savings and help them remain competitive," he added.

Collectively, these three options accounted for over one-third of the on-site programmes carried out, Mr Robertson told the news provider.

The energy sector is undergoing a series of changes at the moment, as last week (June 21st) Ofgem revealed its reforms designed to offer consumers a fairer and simpler system.

It is hoped the measure will tackle a perceived lack of transparency and competition in the sector, by making sure business and personal customers can find out exactly where they can find the best deal.

One of the major hurdles facing the food and drink sector as it seeks to embrace green energy solutions is capital investment. Access to finance is still a stumbling block, as many banks are wary of lending money in the current economic climate.

However, Mr Robertson revealed progress is being made in this area and firms may find it easier to get money in the future.

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