In the UK alone, the baking sector emits 570,000 tons of carbon emissions every year, the equivalent of the energy used by 175,000 households per year. The bakery industry is part of one of the most carbon-intensive industrial sectors - food and drink - along with others like oil refining, ceramics and glass.
The government is working hard to drive down emissions and is working alongside industry to identify areas and methods to do so, said Al-Karim Govindji, technology acceleration manager for Innovation and industrial energy efficiency expert at the Carbon Trust.
“There is a general appetite and interest in changing among bakers, but they don’t always move at the speed the government wants,” Govindji told BakeryandSnacks.com.
“There are a number of barriers that companies face,” he said.
For example, he said that companies are torn when choosing which projects to invest capital in. It might be a case of choosing to invest in either energy efficiency measures or production expansion, he said, and sometimes the pay pack on energy efficiency measures may not be as quick or effective as other projects.
“The challenge is that industry is looking for faster and faster paybacks,” he said.
“I think all industry will focus on cost first and carbon second. It’s one of the commercial realities,” he added.
Busy people with factories to run…
On top of the cost considerations, prioritizing energy efficiency has to fit into business and the day to day running of things, Govindji said.
Government and industry must work hand in hand for real progress to be realised, he said. “I think a bit of pressure for longer-term thinking creates a bit of a plan.”
When it comes to energy efficiency, he said there are very few industrial sectors that would do it alone and most are happy for government involvement and projects.
Outside help is also welcomed given the lack of knowledge on innovative energy efficiency technologies in some bakeries, he added.
“People don’t always have the knowledge or know-how to deploy these things in terms of innovation. And often when they have resources, energy efficiency is alongside another day job,” he said.
Innovation and best practice
The UK’s overall industrial sector could save around 29% energy if best practices are adhered to and innovative methods deployed, according to Carbon Trust research.
“Typically 10-12% can be achieved through best practice and 16-18% from innovation,” Govindji said.
Asked what best practice involves from a bakery stand-point, he said it would be actions like using more efficient motors and fans with variable speed drivers in the oven right or changing employee behaviour – to ensure ovens and lights are only switched on when needed.
For innovation, there are lots of ideas out there at testing stages, he said, but also some technologies on the market right now.
Oven heat recovery systems or light-weight materials for baking tins are already being used, Govindji said.
Oven stage is the main focus for bakers
The oven stage, particularly combustion efficiency and heat recovery, is being looked at the most as it is the most energy-intensive part of bakery production, he said. “Most of the energy in a typical bakery comes from the oven – around 50-60%.”
The Carbon Trust is currently working with a UK bakery equipment supplier Spooners and research firm Campden BRI on a project to demonstrate the potential scale of improvements in combustion efficiency in bakery ovens. The project has been going for a year and a half and should be tested in commercial bakeries by the end of 2013, Govindji said.
Other broader energy efficiency projects in the pipeline that are still not realistic for bakers to consider include carbon capture and storage – a project the UK government is investing in – and decarbonizing the electricity grid by using off-shore wind energy or solar power, he said.
For more on this special edition: