Cooling solution to negate need for owning refrigeration plants

16th September 2016 By: Sebastian Whyle - journalist

Leading energy solutions provider Energy Partners in June launched its new refrigeration solution, which enables clients to buy low-cost cooling without having to buy or maintain a refrigeration plant.

Clients can buy cooling, as they would from a utility, from Energy Partners at an agreed cost for every cooling unit, the number of which is determined by the company’s newly developed refrigeration meter, which has been designed specifically for the new solution.

Energy Partners heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC&R) divisional head Dawie Kriel explains that the input costs of a refrigeration system are electricity, maintenance and finance costs.

He states that the cost of cooling is calculated as a combination of these costs, divided by the amount of cooling produced, which results in a kilowatt hour rate for every rand. This rate is payable by the customer while Energy Partners takes full responsibility for all the maintenance needs and costs of the plant.

Kriel says two types of organisation could potentially benefit from this service offering:
“ . . . one that currently owns a refrigeration plant, and wants to improve efficiency and reliability without the hassle of operating a plant and . . . an organisation that is planning to have new facilities that require efficient and reliable cooling for its daily operations on a pay-as-you-use basis”.

Currently, the company’s main clients are those in the commercial food retail sector, including new supermarkets and existing stores, where the company actively replaces outdated and inefficient refrigeration plants, he adds. “We also own plants in the dairy industry and logistics arena. The solution is suitable to most facilities that have a refrigeration load for most of the year.”

Commenting on the company’s business model, Kriel states that Energy Partners invests its own capital to improve or replace an existing refrigeration plant and ensure that the operational energy efficiency is optimised. “We then sell ‘cooling’ to the client at an agreed rate for every kilowatt hour while taking full responsibility for all the maintenance needs and costs of the plant,” he highlights.

The rate that Energy Partners has offered to clients will result in efficient, but competitive and cost-effective, cooling. In addition, the company also shares the operational cost savings with existing users in the form of payouts of up to 10% of the refrigeration sold at the end of each contract term, while clients maintain the right to buy the use of the plant back at any time.

Meanwhile, Kriel mentions that a number of enabling technologies have become affordable in recent years, which allow for thermo- dynamic processes to be controlled closer to their theoretically optimum efficiency. This has resulted in significant energy savings and includes new refrigerants, sensors, actuators, controllers and data management systems, he adds.

This has also allowed Energy Partners to offer innovative technical and financial solutions in all the industries in which it operates through significant investment in research and development.

Kriel adds that the cooling solution comes standard with access to a Web- and smartphone-based app that enables clients to keep track of the performance of the refrigeration system, key temperatures, billing and, in the case of existing plant owners, the income they will receive from the plant.

“By understanding the fundamental dilemma our customers face in trying to reduce energy costs, the company has . . . identified opportunities to reduce technical and financial inefficiencies in the energy industry and invest in these opportunities.”

He concludes that the company believes that this cooling solution fills a long-standing gap in the refrigeration industry: “Clients can now focus on their core business and outsource their refrigeration needs, while ensuring optimum efficiency by fixing the cost of cooling.”