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UK Grocery Chain Slashes Energy Consumption by 35% with Data Monitoring, Optimization

(Asda plant; Credit: Star Refrigeration)

Asda, one of the UK’s largest grocery store chains, has slashed energy costs at its refrigeration plants by reducing energy use by five GWh over the past five years; the chain has also reduced CO2 emissions by 1,100 metric tons over the same period, by optimizing energy efficiency across nine chilled distribution centers.

Asda has installed software that monitors the performance at refrigeration plants, ultimately reducing plants’ energy consumption by 35% since 2010, the company says. “We have made tangible reductions in energy use throughout our chilled depots whilst continuing to run our business as usual with no disruption, and have not decreased our capacity requirements,” says Brian Churchyard, senior manager of building model, engineering, energy and innovation with Asda. The reductions have resulted in reduced operational costs, he adds.

The company worked with Star Refrigeration’s data monitoring business, Star Data Analytics, as well as City Facilities Management. Star’s Ethos software has helped Asda optimize preventative maintenance and energy performance, the company says. Ethos collects data from refrigeration plants in real time and the cloud based software then compares actual operating performance with a computer model of theoretical performance at the given ambient conditions and operating temperatures. This comparison of actual performance with the “digital twin” highlights any energy gap and enables the team to identify problems and suggest corrective actions to reduce energy usage and meet environmental goals.

Live data is provided through a digital dashboard which conveys the performance. Alerts are sent to plant owners and maintenance contractors when irregular equipment behavior is detected. Additionally, a spending chart within the Ethos dashboard allows customers to see at a glance how much money is being spent running the refrigeration plant.

The Ethos software was first installed in Asda’s Bedford chilled distribution center. In four years of monitoring the plant and making recommendations to improve efficiency, the site reported energy savings of 556,000 kWh and also saved 760 metric tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere.

The commercial refrigeration system is the biggest energy user within grocery stores, accounting for about 40% to 60% of electricity consumption, according to the EPA. Energy-efficiency investments could reduce energy consumption in the sector by 14%, the EPA predicted in a 2015 report.

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