A heat pump hot water system trial at Hardwicks Kyneton, currently under construction, is expected to be operational by mid-2023.

Trials of hot water with heat pumps and improved power supplies could save Victorian meat processing companies more than $500,000 a year in energy and utility costs.

Hardwicks, like all red meat processing businesses, use a lot of energy.

Despite already operating a 2.5 MW solar panel array and a 2 MWh battery storage system, Hardwicks uses gas to heat water essential to its process operations.

The geothermal heat pump upgrade will allow the site to generate enough heat to operate at levels to improve beef shelf life and access further export market growth, while reducing the site’s dependence on natural gas by more than 75%. Allows you to generate water.

The project will also benefit from Hardwicks’ previous commitment to reduce emissions by utilizing existing on-site renewable energy supply infrastructure.

The total project cost is $2.57 million, with $838,000 in federal funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

With help from ARENA, Hardwicks embarked on a project to switch to a heat pump-driven hot water system.

Further integration of renewable energy generation and thermal storage systems, as well as new high-voltage power supplies, could save the company more than $500,000 annually in energy and utility costs.

In total, CO2 emissions from the facility are expected to be reduced by more than 1000 tons per year.

Based in Kineton in the Macedonian Mountains of Victoria, Hardwicks is now owned by Kilcoy Global Foods and employs over 400 staff to supply beef, lamb and goat to Australian and international foodservice and retail customers. We supply meat in carcass and carton form.

For food safety, many of Hardwicks’ productions must be performed in a refrigerated environment below 4°C. But Hardwick’s project manager says: Mark hardwickyou also need a lot of hot water.

“Refrigeration is one of the key elements of food hygiene, and hot water is used to sanitize equipment and wash down production areas – people who wash their hands hundreds of times a day, boots and aprons.” he said.

How to save money

Refrigeration, like all meat processors, is an energy-intensive part of Hardwick’s operations.

The heat extracted from cold rooms, equipment in operation, and production processes is exhausted and released into the environment. Energy usage and utility bills are even higher on hot days.

Historically, the hot water side of Hardwick’s operations relied on gas boilers. Now they plan to use the waste heat from the refrigerator to preheat the water.

“With a refrigeration system, there is waste heat that is removed from the system, so we really take that waste heat and super-compress it to preheat the hot water we need,” says Mark Hardwick. .

The Hardwicks system takes heat from the output of the refrigeration system at around 30-35°C and uses a heat pump to raise the temperature of the feed water to around 75°C. This increase in temperature is expected to reduce Hardwick’s gas bills by 75 percent. .

The system also recovers heat from the refrigeration system, making the cooling process more efficient and using less refrigerated water, especially on hot days.

Hardwicks will continue to use your existing gas boiler just like you would an instant gas boiler in your home, increasing the water temperature as needed. However, savings are still expected to exceed $280,000.

Mark Hardwick said the company could phase out gas entirely if the trial is successful.

ARENA also supports the conversion of Hardwicks power supplies from low voltage to high voltage. This is projected to result in network savings of over $235,000.

Heat pump hot water system over the wall

Hardwick’s project started in February. When it goes live in mid-2023, it aims, among other things, to better understand how to mitigate the perceived risks of retrofitting heat pumps for industrial process heating.

Mark Hardwick admitted that the choice to replace the existing gas system was not an easy one at first.

“Hot water generation with natural gas is well-proven and very cheap,” he said.

“When the heat pump was put on our desks…we did the first feasibility study and said if we could make it work, this would be a really good project,” he said. I got

Darren Miller, CEO of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, said the demonstration project is aimed at boosting industry adoption.

“This project demonstrates how the use of heat pumps reduces our dependence on natural gas and that this is technically and economically feasible and a viable solution to dramatically reduce emissions at the facility. It gives us an opportunity to try out how to prove to the industry,” he said.

“Hardwicks is at the forefront of reducing emissions in the meat processing industry. We have already installed solar power and batteries on site, and the addition of heat pumps and the use of thermal energy will reduce the demand for hot water in industrial processes. We can now demonstrate how it can be managed.

“This is a solution that could be replicated by other companies in the industry,” said Miller.

How do heat pumps work?

A heat pump works like a refrigerator in reverse. Instead of extracting and dispersing heat from a target space (such as the interior of a kitchen refrigerator and its contents), heat pumps effectively capture, concentrate, and move that thermal energy to where it is useful.

Imagine a refrigerator in your kitchen made to work in reverse. The kitchen is a little cooler, with what looks like a low-temperature oven inside the refrigerator cabinet. If you put a kettle in there, lukewarm water will come out. Hot water comes out when you raise it to 11.

Industrial heat pumps do this on a large scale. A kitchen refrigerator has a power rating of about 150 watts. The 1MW capacity heat pump installed by Hardwick’s operates on a 250kW power supply. This is equivalent to turning 1,500 refrigerators backwards.

To understand the decarbonization potential of heat pumps, recent modeling by the Australian Alliance for Energy Productivity (A2EP) shows that the use of all forms of heat pumps across all industries could reduce 1,000 It has been shown to save 10,000 tons of CO2.


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