New role for future cold stores at the forefront of UK’s energy transformation

A new Net Zero Project report, published today by the Cold Chain Federation, shows the cold store of 2050 can establish a new role supporting the forthcoming transformation of the UK’s energy landscape, at the same time as operating highly efficient cold storage facilities.

The new report, The Cold Store of 2050: Maximising Efficiency to Reduce Emissions & Drive UK Energy Transformation, explores and illustrates how cold storage facilities could evolve in light of the UK Government’s commitment to a Net Zero Economy by 2050. It details the technologies which could become widespread, the barriers to their adoption and how the vision could be achieved.

The report identifies how cold store operators can not only benefit directly from a more energy efficient facility but also by harnessing opportunities in the transition of the energy system. It says their size, design and typical location can make cold stores well suited for renewable energy generation, battery storage and mechanisms such as grid balancing through demand management.

Tom Southall, Cold Chain Federation Policy Director, said: “UK cold storage operators are looking towards a net zero future and there are some fantastic examples of the pioneering use of developing technologies such as innovative temperature monitoring systems and automation to dramatically improve energy efficiency. Our industry is investing in its sustainable future and this report provides valuable insight into not only tomorrow’s technologies, but also the new role cold storage can play in the UK’s transition to a net zero economy.

“The cold storage industry encompasses a wide variety of operations and facilities so components of the Cold Store of 2050 will vary for each site: our vision outlines the technologies and opportunities which could be implemented in a typical operation. Consistent across the board however, is that a series of changes are needed for this vision to become reality, not least for Government to ease the planning restrictions currently hampering installation of renewable energy infrastructure and to provide grant funding for large capital energy efficiency investments, particularly for smaller operators. We will be making the case to Government for these changes to come to fruition.” 

Opportunities detailed in the report for cold stores to place themselves at the forefront of the UK’s energy transformation include:

  • On-site energy generation: cold storage sites could significantly increase the inclusion of renewable technologies such as solar panels and wind turbines.
  • Combined Heat and Power (CHP): where a business can source fuel for a biomass boiler, or feedstock for an anaerobic digester plant, or such a time that hydrogen replaces piped gas, CHP could provide an efficient alternative to energy from the grid. 
  • Centralised cooling: suitable for some operations, ‘centralised cooling’ sees a single system provide refrigeration for multiple facilities and businesses within a local system or district. 
  • Demand side response: ‘storing’ energy by overcooling to allow switching off for a longer period of time to support grid balancing.
  • Energy storage: hosting physical batteries to store energy.

The Cold Store of 2050: Maximising Efficiency to Reduce Emissions & Drive UK Energy Transformation is the latest in the Federation’s series of reports for its Net Zero Cold Chain Project which launched in October 2020 with the purpose of bringing the industry together to answer some of the key questions around Net Zero. 

Download the full report at www.coldchainfederation.org.uk/road-to-net-zero-part-4/

The Cold Chain Federation is hosting a special virtual launch event exploring the contents of the new report on 13th June 2022 at 10am, registration is free. Register at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/223105626217198862

Don’t miss further discussion and insights into the future of cold stores at the Cold Chain Federation’s Cold Chain Live! conference in September. Find out more at www.coldchainfederation.org.uk/events

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