The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $838,000 in funding to Hardwick Processors to install a 1 MW (thermal) demonstration scale heat pump at its meat processing plant in Kyneton, Victoria.
The heat pump will enable the site to produce enough hot water to operate at levels to improve product shelf life and access further export market growth, while helping to reduce the site’s reliance on natural gas by over 75 per cent.
The project also involves an upgrade to the existing electrical supply system which includes a 2.5 MW solar PV and a 2 MWh battery storage system.
ARENA CEO Darren Miller said around half of the total energy used by Australian industry is due to industrial process heat, which typically uses natural gas. Reducing the reliance on natural gas for process heat represents a significant opportunity to decarbonise Australian industry and reduce exposure to volatile gas prices.
Low temperature (~80°C) industrial process heat applications, such as hot water, are amongst the most accessible to supply with renewable energy. Heat pumps operate in this range comfortably and can be powered with renewable electricity.
Miller said: “The project offers us the opportunity to trial how using heat pumps can reduce reliance on natural gas and prove to the industry that this is technically and economically feasible and a viable solution to dramatically reduce emissions at their facilities.
“This is a solution that we could see being replicated across other businesses in the industry.”
In 2019 Hardwick Processors was selected from a shortlist of manufacturers to undertake a feasibility study into using renewable energy to provide process heat, as part of a project led by the Australian Alliance for Energy Productivity (A2EP) and funded by ARENA.
The study found that it would be most efficient to run a smaller and less expensive heat pump continuously, storing hot water in existing thermal storage tanks. The positive results led to ARENA funding the current demonstration scale project.
In addition to the heat pump installation, Hardwick Processors will also upgrade their electrical supply system to become a high voltage customer, taking any excess electricity required from the Powercor network. This upgrade will provide valuable insights into the electrical supply infrastructure requirements associated with completely electrifying process heat for industry.
ARENA’s Miller said the demonstration project would help to reduce barriers to uptake for the industry.
“The project offers us the opportunity to trial how using heat pumps can reduce reliance on natural gas and prove to the industry that this is technically and economically feasible and a viable solution to dramatically reduce emissions at their facilities.”
ARENA also recently announced funding to Ground Source Systems to demonstrate a full-scale solar PV and ground-source heat pump system, with gas backup, for heating and cooling at a commercial broiler facility in Yanderra, NSW. The hybrid system will see LPG replaced as a fuel for heating and cooling a single shed for housing chickens.
Picture: Hardwick Processors
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