The geopolitical crisis of recent months has introduced a worrying level of uncertainty about gas supply, consequently increasing energy prices.
In this scenario, companies are thinking with renewed interest about energy efficiency issues and the dairies producing Grana Padano are no exception. What can producers really do to protect themselves? Certainly, even in a medium-long term perspective, it will be essential for them to increase the rate of self-production of energy from renewable sources and efficiency in the production of thermal energy and refrigeration. However, the main and primary action is always the reduction of energy requirements.
The LIFE TTGG project highlighted the importance of thermal recovery strategies in terms of energy efficiency. This consists in reusing the heat contained in one process to feed another, without resorting to the generation of more heat. That happens, for example,
- when you take the heat of the hot whey discharged after the separation of the curd and you reuse it to pre-heat the cold milk that enters the double copper bottoms for the cooking phase;
- or when the condensing heat of the refrigerating units, instead of being dissipated in the atmosphere, is used to feed the maturing warehouses that would otherwise require a substantial energy contribution from the gas boilers.
If a few months ago these interventions allowed to reduce the production costs by about 1 euro per form of Grana Padano, now this saving has practically doubled, due to the increase in energy prices. This means that the implementation of one of the mentioned thermal recovery interventions, already particularly interesting in the pre-crisis situation, has substantially halved the its payback period.
Energy consumption has a significant impact, both on the environment and on companies’ investments.
If so far the first lever has not been quite pressing, the fact that the economic lever becomes relevant can push entrepreneurs to observe with a more careful and conscious eye their productions, using more efficiently the resources that they already handle, reducing both environmental impact and costs imposed by uncontrollable geopolitical conditions.