The Research Council UK National Centre for Sustainable Energy Use in Food Chains was opened at Brunel University yesterday.
The project, led by Professor Savvas Tassou, looks at ways to develop innovative approaches and technologies to effect substantial end use energy demand reductions.
The Centre has a long-term objectives to increase energy efficiency in line with government aims to reduce CO2 emissions 80% by 2050.
The Centre will focus on all the various aspects of the food supply chain and ways to save energy. The centre will also research the ways to maximise energy and lessen potential environmental and economic consequences of rising energy prices.
Professor Tassou said there are plenty of opportunities to work with SMEs to maximise energy efficiency.
“The manufacturing side of energy has had pressure to keep plants running, so they struggle to have sufficient time to look at energy.
“I believe there’s lots of opportunity on the manufacturing side, particularly with SMEs. The large companies have the infrastructure and they can pay the companies. I think the opportunites to work with SMEs is significant and that’s where we’re going to pay a lot of attention, to work with them to find solutions. This reduces the cost and risk to them.”
Though much of the focus of research of the centre will be on the technologies developed in the food and drink supply chain, there will also be a focus on commercialising products and creating economic benefit from energy efficient measures.
“I think they (bigger companies) are doing quite a lot. But what I see missing is the scientific analysis,” says Professor Tassou.
“We can bring that analysis before they go out and install something to check that what you’re doing really works. We can do a lot of the analysis before the trial to save money and time.”
The Government said the centre was “an important step” in dealing with challenges to energy in the food supply chain.
“This national centre funded by ESPRC and ESRC, will be an important step in tackling today’s challenges on food production and the environment,” said universities and science minister David Willetts.