The potential of fossil fuels is limited and their utilisation for energy purposes has considerable negative effects on the environment. The utilisation of renewable energy sources is a promising alternative for CO2-neutral energy generation and can significantly contribute to reduce the environmental impact of the industrial sector. Especially the energy demand of the food industry, which is one of the highest industrial energy user, can be covered by a high extent with renewables.
The utilisation of renewables as energy source for the industry can significantly reduce CO2 emissions and fossil fuel use, but the role that renewable energy source play nowadays in the covering of the industrial energy consumption is rather marginal. There is still a lack of information and studies related to the analysis of possibilities of renewable-based energy utilisation within the food processing industry. One of such initiatives is the Greenfoods project, which aims to lead the European food and beverage industry to high-energy efficiency and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
In general there is a high variety of renewable energy conversion technologies, which offer many possibilities to supply food processing companies with secondary and final energy carriers. The work presented in the paper provides an overview of opportunities and barriers related to the utilisation of renewables as an energy source for the food processing industry. In the presented study, the main renewable energy technologies (solar thermal, geothermal energy, heat pumps, biomass and renewable based cogeneration systems) were analysed with respect to their parameters and applicability as energy sources for the food and beverage industry. The presented renewable energy utilisation concepts were developed in order to guide the food processing companies to identify tailor-made solutions for sustainable production in the different subsectors (dairies, meat industry, drink industry, bakeries, baby food, cereal producer, animal food and fish industry) in the food and beverage industry by the development of clear strategies for process optimisation and energy supply towards a production without fossil carbon emissions.