RWTA Energy Efficiency Subcommittee 2012

Report on the Activities of the RWTA Energy Efficiency Subcommittee

Gabor Hilton RWTA Director and Life Member

Cold Running November 2012

The RWTA Energy Efficiency Subcommittee last met on the 13th September 2012 and is due to meet again on the 6th December 2012. We wish to thank the retiring Chairman Rod McQueen for his contribution and leadership of the EE Subcommittee Chairperson from its inception. Glenn Edwards from Montague Cold Store was appointed the new Chairman and we are looking forwards to future growth under Glenn's committed leadership.

The Subcommittee's activities are hampered by the apparent lack of interest from our cold storage member's senior management. We are concerned by senior management failing to authorise their staff to participate in our surveys, and the lack of interest in participating in subcommittee meetings. We find it unbelievable and frustrating that senior management does not take ownership and fail to drive and encourage their staff's participation in this very worthwhile committee. Energy savings of up to 40% can be achieved by better plant control, management and adaptation of emerging technologies. In this regard, identifying opportunities and sharing experiences is vital to success and saving costs.

The ever increasing cost of energy can be offset by improving energy efficiency. Some of the emerging technologies that can help are;

  • Plant optimisation and SCADA control
  • Variable Frequency Drives on compressors, pumps, condenser and evaporator fans
  • Energy efficient solid state lighting (LEDs)
  • Voltage and Current optimisation
  • Heat reflecting coatings on external surfaces
  • Co-generation and Try-generation
  • Adaptation of Solar Photovoltaic generation

Combined RWTA REC Index and Energy Efficiency Benchmarking

RWTA employed the services of independent market researcher Anthony Frosh of Compact Research to carry out the monthly Renewable Energy Charges and Carbon Tax survey. We requested Anthony to include an additional column for the "Total volume of temperature controlled areas" so we can calculate the electricity used (kWh) per cubic meter for each facility.

We propose to publish the average Energy Efficiency (kWh/M³) for all facilities for the period together with the average state-wide impact on the cost of electricity of the clean energy charges. Members will be able to measure their energy efficiency against the average for the period for each Australian state.

We urge all RWTA members to participate in this independent survey so we can obtain meaningful data to be able to successfully lobby government to include the cold storage industry in funding for energy saving initiatives.

The average increases due to the clean energy charges for the month of July 2012 were:

STATE State RECs Increase Carbon Tax Increase Total REC/CT Increase
NSW 13% 21% 34%
QLD 18% 26% 44%
VIC 19% 24% 43%
AVERAGE 16.7% 23.7% 4o.4%

The average increases due to the clean energy charges for the month of August 2012 were:


Clean Technology Investment Programs

A number of organisations helped us to lobby the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, DCCEE, on the exclusion of independent cold stores from the Clean Technology Investment Funds. Only companies that are classified under the ANZIC as manufacturers are eligible for CTI funding towards energy efficiency improvement projects. We wish to thank the following for their assistance in making submissions on our behalf to inform government about this unfair situation:

1. Mr Tim Edwards - Australian Refrigeration Association

    2. Mr Phil Wilkinson - AIRAH

    3. Ms Vivian Filling - AIG

    The 1.2 billion DCCEE "Clean Technology Investment Program" was suspended during September but has now reopened for eligible applicants.

    Low Carbon Australia Funding Opportunities

    The Energy Efficiency Subcommittee members participated in a presentation at our last meeting that was followed up by a webinar with Low Carbon Australia on the possibilities of low interest long term loans to fund energy efficiency projects with repayments to be made mostly from energy savings. We thank Mr Henry Enning and his team for the special interest shown in RWTA.

    SGG Levy

    RWTA was represented in workshops, seminars and a Refrigeration Engineering Conference held in Brisbane on 24 July 2012 on the cost and consequences of the Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Levy that increased the cost of most widely used refrigerants by 400-500%. This new tax could have profound effects on cold stores.

    The synthetic HFC refrigerants were introduced after the Montreal Protocol banned the use of ozone depleting Freon refrigerants. Unfortunately these new blends have very high Global Warming Potential with GWPs in the order of 2000-4000 times that of carbon. The SGG Levy is paid by the importer and by the time the gas is charged into a refrigeration system the effect of the tax is multiplied many times. The cost of a major refrigerant leak in a cold store could cost many hundreds of thousands of dollars. Replacement refrigerants with low GWP are being developed but most existing products in trial cause an increase in energy use. The tax collected goes into general revenue and there is no funding to industry to retrofit alternative natural refrigerants.

    R22 also increased in price as the manufacture and importation will be banned after 2015 and only recycled R22 will be available. The synthetic refrigerants that are designed to replace R22 have a high GWP and also became extremely expensive.

    Natural Refrigerants
    The huge increase in the cost of synthetic refrigerants is designed to encourage industry to retrofit refrigeration systems to use natural refrigerants. These of us who use ammonia as a refrigerant are safe as ammonia is a natural refrigerant together with carbon dioxide and hydrocarbons. Ammonia and carbon dioxide cannot be retrofitted into HFC systems and a complete rebuild is required. Hydrocarbons can act as a suitable alternative refrigerant but because they are highly flammable and explosive they are restricted to smaller systems and are not expected to be widely used in cold storage. Because of their explosive nature the requirement for a remote well ventilated location of the plant and the protection from electrically induced sparks the hydrocarbon retrofits are cot straight forward and require special considerations.

    RWTA is represented in the task force charged with developing an Australian Code of Practice for Flammable Refrigerants which should be released early 2013.

    A very good paper by AIRAH "Transition to a low emission HVAC&R industry, a report on commercial, technical and skills gaps" was recently circulated to all RWTA members. I recommend that all cold store operators considering using flammable refrigerants read this excellent document.

    National Energy Savings Initiative

    RWTA made a submission to the National Energy Savings Initiative which follows on from the Prime Minister's Task Group on Energy Efficiency and is designed for the introduction of a transitional energy savings initiative to replace existing and planned state energy efficiency schemes. As this is subject to agreement with the states it may never happen but we are involved so we can monitor the proceedings so our members will not be disadvantaged.

    Special Thanks

    On behalf of the cold storage members of the RWTA Energy Efficiency Subcommittee we would like to express our gratitude to Michael Bellstedt of Minus 40 Refrigeration, Mark Holden of Oomiak Refrigeration and Tony Kimpton from GEA Refrigeration. They are regular attendees of our meetings and give us lots of support.

    Last but not least.....

    I urge all RWTA Board Members to encourage their engineers to pay more attention to and to increase their participation in the activities of the RWTA Energy Efficiency Subcommittee.

    STATE State RECs Increase Carbon Tax Increase Total REC/CT Increase
    NSW 15% 21% 36%
    QLD 19% 24% 43%
    VIC 19% 24% 43%
    AVERAGE 16.7% 24.3% 42%