At 900 metres above the sea level, in the middle of northern Castilla’s “meseta”, the green painted buildings of Europe’s largest biscuits plant dwaves the motorway exit at Aguilar de Campoo, a town of 7,000 inhabitants half-way between Palencia and Santander.
“One of the first things we have done – explains Carlos Zaballos Alonso, project manager at Gullon – was to look at the potential savings by exploiting the geographical location where our factories are situated. At this altitude, some of the cooling processes we require for water can be run using the natural cold of the region, thus saving energy, with the exception, of course, of the summer season. The other measures we are planning focus on improving the ecological control system in air handling units. This is the application of a rather simple principle, as mixing air of different temperatures decreases the need for energy. This is connected also to the need to manage humidity more efficiently. When the outside temperature and humidity decreases below given parameters, more or less 15ºC (not rare case in Aguilar), we need to inject steam, which increases energy consumption. By injecting cold water from the chiller we can achieve the same result, in a more efficient manner”.
While workers in green overalls rush to change shift, Zaballos recalls that efficiency is not just the result of technological measures. “We are implementing a balancing system that should help manage the heating generation currently split in three units by ensuring the appropriate level of efficiency for each boiler and are going to deploy a novel heat recovery system in one of the ovens. But we are also paying attention to inject some energy efficiency philosophy in the company, which means that our personnel needs to be more involved in understanding issues and taking action on energy efficiency. We are going to implement a new data acquisition system at pilot scale in one part of the plant and we expect our staff to use it to identify waste, leakages or pockets of inefficiency which deserve our intervention”.
Gullon expect savings of electricity and gas generated by the measures being undertaken in the framework of the REEMAIN project up to 15%.