Decarbonising the food sector: Veolia supports the first low carbon, heating and cooling network on a food production site in the UK

Decarbonising the food sector: Veolia supports the first low-carbon, heating and cooling network on a food production site in the UK

The latest technology at SmartParc facility will cut carbon emissions by over 30,000 tonnes per year.

A new innovative low-carbon energy network, developed by SmartParc supported by Veolia, is set to cut carbon emissions for food manufacturing by 30,000 tonnes per year at the flagship SmartParc site near Derby. Home to the UK’s first ever low-carbon food manufacturing community, covering 186,000 m (2 million square feet), the system serving the new business campus will use the latest technologies to deliver the essential cooling and heating needs for the food manufacturers on the site, whilst future-proofing the industry. 

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. 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. 

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 CO₂e 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 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.

"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."
John Abraham,
Chief Operating Officer - Veolia UK & Ireland - Industrial, Water & Energy

Phil Lovell, Chief Operating Officer – Europe for SmartParc, said 

"We are excited to deliver this pioneering energy solution at SmartParc SEGRO Derby, the first of its kind in the food industry. 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. We're delighted to be supported by Veolia on this project."

By adopting innovative solutions and changing patterns of production and consumption, Veolia is placing ecology at the heart of every process to achieve its goal of being carbon neutral. This includes maximising the value of resources to effectively ensure a secure energy supply and easing resource scarcity challenges.