BY ROB SHUTTLEWORTH
CHIEF EXECUTIVE, UKLPG
There is a quiet revolution underway in industrial food production. The need to manage rising energy costs, while still ensuring reliability of supply, is prompting food and drink processors and manufacturers to review the best fuel sources for their long-term needs.
Members of UKLPG are reporting a significant increase in demand for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from commercial users, with the food and beverage sector being among the most prolific – especially in meat, cereal, dairy, brewing and distilling. With some suppliers reporting an increase in demand of as much as 50%, what is driving this switch to LPG and why now?
There are a number of factors that are currently pushing LPG to the foreground. It is a widely available, flexible and reliable off-grid fuel source that acts in the same way as natural gas, making it perfect for consistent heating, drying, baking and cooking processes.
The sector has also sought to take advantage of the low carbon and environmental benefits of LPG – it emits 12% less carbon than oil, and produces hardly any nitrogen oxides, sulphur or particle emissions. This even makes it the ideal choice for forklift truck units operating in food warehouse environments.
As an industry, the LPG sector has worked hard to ensure that this versatile gas can be used with the latest low-carbon technologies to ensure it meets the needs of a wide range of businesses – both large and small – long into the future.
Indeed, regulatory obligations are driving demand for cleaner energy sources. Following the implementation of the Energy Related Products Directive and its application to commercial units, LPG is fast gaining appeal as a long-term solution.
LPG “produces a better end-product” for bakers, UKLPG said.
There is also a growing realisation that electricity alone cannot service the food industry’s low carbon heat and energy demands in the future due to constraints on generation and the infrastructure required. Combine this with the drive for increasingly innovative energy solutions and the case for LPG becomes increasingly compelling, particularly in off-grid areas.
A key part of its attractiveness to food and drink production is its consistency and reliability. In practice, LPG is a problem-solving solution for this sector: it provides dairy farms with a more cost-effective way of securing a reliable instant hot water supply, delivers a better quality end-product for industrial bakers and removes expensive infrastructure costs in direct firing processes.
LPG has a long track record as part of the fuel mix for food production in both bulk and portable formats. The recognition by both government and energy providers that gas will be a key part of the future energy mix means that LPG is there for the long-haul and is therefore attracting investment to ensure that it delivers high performance in a wide variety of food applications.
Undoubtedly rising energy costs are on the agenda of all businesses, but they are particularly pressing in the energy-intensive processes seen in food and beverage production. It is exciting to see this highly flexible fuel source become an increasingly significant part of the solution for so many businesses.
Benefits of LPG in brief:
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