A recent research report by SINTEF Energy Research and the Norwegian Seafood Federation (FHL) points out that there is a huge potential for energy savings in Norwegian companies that specialise in processing dried fish and pelagic species such as herring and markerel, as well as in fish-farming.
These industries use large amounts of energy, particularly in drying and freezing their products.
The participants in the large-scale project found that the potential for energy savings came to almost 50 percent, and could be as much as 70 percent in the most extreme cases.
Given that the total annual energy consumption of these companies is about 100 GWh a year, this indicates that savings of tens of millions of kroner a year could be made.
“Although the Norwegian fish-processing industry is one of the most modern in the world, there is evidently still a vast potential for improvement,” says Tom Ståle Nordtvedt of SINTEF Energy Research.
FHL's project manager Frank Jakobsen is also surprised by the results.
“These really will raise the level of consciousness in this industry. Those companies that haven't actively taken part in the project will have to think again,” he says.
Shows up on the bottom line
The project revealed potential improvements in efficiency of around 30 percent in the pelagic fishing industry, equivalent to annual savings of more than NOK 1.3 million per company.
“These are significant savings in a sector that operates with small margins. A typical operating result is around 1 – 2 percent, or about MNOK 5 – 6 for an average company in this industry, so a good million kroner saved will be very visible on the bottom line,” claims Nordtvedt.
In the pelagic industry, a large proportion of the energy used goes into the freezing process. Today, the best figure in the industry is 123.3 kWh per tonne frozen fish, while other companies lie far above this level.
The project suggests that energy requirements could be reduced to as little as 106 kWh per tonne.
Half the current level
In the dried fish industry, scientists believe that the the average potential for efficiency improvements is almost 50 percent.
“Our calculations show that changes in production methods are capable of reducing energy consumption by up to 50 percent,” says Nordtvedt.
“Similar estimates have also been made for the pelagic industry, although achieving these would require significant investments in equipment and systems.
One of the surprises revealed by the study was that that the drying process could be dramatically reduced.
“We found that the drying process continues to be just as effective after the fish are warehoused. This means that it is not the volume of air used, but the time involved and the relative humidity that are decisive, and these did not have any negative effects on quality,” says Nordtvedt.
In 2004, the industry that produces young salmon and trout for ongrowing consumed some 183 GWh. If the whole of the sector had reduced its energy consumption to that of an ideal imaginary company, energy consumption would be cut by as much as 69 percent, or 125 GWh per year.
“More realistic potential energy savings have been estimated at 40 percent, equivalent to 73 GWh a year for the whole industry, based on the best technology available today,” says Nordtvedt.
Industry needs to take measures
Frank Jakobsen of NHL thinks that the industry need to implement various measures on the basis of these research results.
“This industry operates with a high level of costs. The fact that such an important company as Norway Pelagic participated in our pilot study was important in making the results visible to the rest of the industry,” he says.
Senior scientist Tom Ståle Nordtvedt says that the project group now wishes to use the results in a continuation of the project.
“Norway Pelagic has already started doing this on its own account. We intend to look at such parameters as optimisation of equipment and more efficient control and monitoring of production processes,” he says.
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