Decarbonising the food sector: the first UK low-carbon, heating and cooling food site

Derby, UK: SmartParc and Segro have built a high-tech food manufacturing and distribution campus on a 155-acre site in Derby with Veolia providing the heating and cooling using ‘clean’ energy.
The 2m sq ft campus style hub offers flexible spaces ranging from starter units at 3,500sq ft to manufacturing units up to 400,000sq ft. The site will also be home to a “Food Manufacturing Technology Centre of Excellence” to future-proof the food industry, offering education and career opportunities to secure both the local and global food supply chains, SmartParc said.

A low-carbon energy network, developed by SmartParc and Veolia, is set to cut carbon emissions for food manufacturing. “Most food manufacturers require both heating and cooling to support their storage, processing, space heating, and hygiene activities, and SmartParc’s energy-sharing infrastructure aims to utilise wind and solar initially, combined with central services, to deliver sustainable food production, Veolia said.

A low-carbon energy network, developed by SmartParc supported by Veolia, is set to cut carbon emissions for food manufacturing

To support this aim the scheme incorporates industrial ammonia chillers and heat pumps, and the resultant energy will be supplied through a 9.8km district cooling infrastructure. This is designed to deliver a diversified cold glycol cooling duty of 11MW at -6°C and, by capturing the waste heat from the refrigeration plant, will provide hot water capability of up to 10MW at 72°C across the park, Veolia said.

“The cooling system is anticipated to provide an annual CO₂e saving of around 27,000 tonnes between 2024 and 2030. By capturing process heat, the heating network will deliver a further CO₂ saving of 3,500 tonnes per year, with the potential to double this compared to gas boilers. An additional environmental benefit comes from using ammonia refrigerant in the network, which has a zero global warming potential compared to equivalent synthetic hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerant systems, Veolia said.

Veolia designed the pipe network and will operate the entire heating, cooling and high voltage distribution across the 155-acre site on behalf of SmartParc, including managing metering and billing and providing 24/7 year-round engineering support.

HelloFresh’s factory at SmartParc Segro Derby

A further environmental benefit comes from the use of ammonia refrigerant in the network, which has a zero global warming potential compared to synthetic refrigerant systems.

John Abraham, chief operating officer – Veolia UK & Ireland – industrial, water and energy, said: “Reducing the carbon footprint of food production is important as we advance to net zero. By collaborating with food manufacturers, we can identify and implement new innovative solutions that support essential food production and deliver major cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

“Veolia’s work on this new state-of-the-art site highlights what can be achieved today, takes another significant step towards achieving ecological transformation, and helps further protect the environment for future generations.”

Phil Lovell, chief operating officer – Europe, SmartParc, said: “The heating and cooling network is a critical part of SmartParc’s sustainable, collaborative model for food production. The pipe network and energy centre we have completed will benefit all tenants in the Park, ensuring significant carbon reductions and cost savings.”