Energy role proposed for cold food facilities

European cold stores, including those used for British fruit, could be used to store gigawatts of electricity.

This was the vision of the future offered to top fruit growers by Dutch technology company Saint Trofee's Sietze van der Sluis at last month's storage day in East Malling in Kent.

Sluis explained that a European research project named Night Wind concluded that cold stores had the potential to act as giant batteries that could retain excess electricity produced at night.

The process could, in theory, store a potential 50,000 megawatt hours of energy if all large cold stores in Europe were involved.

Sluis said: "At night, electricity production is already in excess of use and the electricity produced by windmills has little added value. It would be more convenient to store the wind energy produced at night and use it during the daytime." The excess energy would be used to lower the night temperature of the cold stores by 1 degsC.

The stores would then be switched off and returned to normal temperatures during the day at times when electricity demand was at its peak.

Tests also showed that the temperature changes did not adversely affect foodstuffs.

Following the completion of the research project, Saint Trofee has invented a method of converting the energy into "cold".

The process has been successfully implemented at the Partner Logistics cold store in Bergen op Zoom, which is the largest frozen food storage facility in the Netherlands.

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