UK: A 1MW solar cooling installation at a fruit processing plant in Kent is said to have saved over 100,000kWh of energy in just two months.
The supermarket-sized retrofit installation from Lancashire-based SolarCool Energy Ltd was recently completed at one of the UK’s largest fruit processing plants, Chingford Fruit, Dartford Kent.
A company with a strong in-house commitment to reducing harmful emissions into the environment, Chingford Fruit has previously installed LED lighting, human interface controls, voltage optimisation, along with energy monitoring equipment throughout their 50,000m² site. All have substantially reduced the buildings energy consumption but, until now, they could not find a solution for their largest energy consumers – the building’s refrigeration and air conditioning demands.
Colin Ormerod, central services manager at Chingford said: “We have been on the lookout for credible efficiency solutions for our refrigeration and air conditioning plant for some time. We came across SolarCool at the Energy & Renewables Event in Birmingham last year, and it really captured our interest. Although I have to say, it did take some time to convince our refrigeration contractors, however they are now fully on board having had first-hand experience of the product and the installation process, to the point where they have actually presented SolarCool to a number of their other clients.”
The rooftop on the Chingford Fruit warehouse has had 54-solar thermal collectors installed in parallel across 750kW of the 1MW cooling capacity refrigeration system. The installation itself was completed by ZetaCool Services Ltd who managed the installation process in partnership with Chingford’s existing refrigeration contractors STS Refrigeration, part of the ICA Group.
“It is early days, but so far we are tracking way over the figures that SolarCool projected, and we still have the peak summer weather to come,” Colin Ormerod added. “I am personally very excited to see the results and assuming the tracking continues at the same trend, we will see a return of our investment well below two years. It is now highly likely that we will be installing SolarCool onto our HVAC systems, at some point in the very near future”.
SolarCool says that its systems can be retro-fitted onto most HVACR systems providing that the system has variable load ability – inverter, staged, screw-type, and digital scroll for example. In standard cooling units, the compressor has to manage the full compression load, however at the time it is most needed, ie when the sun is out, the SolarCool system takes over a level of the capacity, allowing the compressor to reduce its workload, significantly reducing the amount of electricity consumed by the entire system.
Mark Crabtree, md of SolarCool Energy Ltd added “This is pivotal point for our business. This installation is in line with the size of system you would expect to see on an average supermarket or food production plant.”
He revealed that they were currently in discussions and evaluation with three of the top six UK supermarkets, the top two in Australia, and the top two US supermarkets.
SolarCool now has systems installed across all five continents, having recently completed a deal with an Australian Solar business to commence installations throughout Australasia.