Sovereign reaffirms commitment to CaaS with Energy Partners

28th May 2024 By: Sabrina Jardim - Creamer Media Online Writer

Sovereign reaffirms commitment to CaaS with Energy Partners

Sovereign engineering manager Stephan Oosthuizen

Building on the successful partnership at its further processing facility in Kariega, in the Eastern Cape, poultry producer Sovereign Foods has again entered into a 15-year Cooling-as-a-Service (CaaS) agreement with energy company Energy Partners to meet growing production demands as efficiently and reliably as possible at its Hartbeespoort facility.

Under the terms of the agreement, Energy Partners decommissioned two separate, outdated refrigeration plants at the Hartbeespoort facility, building a separate, central refrigeration plant.

In addition to meeting Sovereign’s efficiency and cooling needs, the new plant also has to adhere to stringent noise level regulations.

Per the CaaS model, Energy Partners invested 100% of the capital – about R92-million – to design and build the plant and will operate and maintain it over the 15-year agreement period, shifting operational risks such as downtime, efficiency and service and maintenance away from the poultry producer.

“We’re exceptionally proud of the work we’ve done – and continue to do – for Sovereign. We have replaced outdated infrastructure with a new, state-of-the-art ammonia refrigeration system that ticks so many efficiency and sustainability boxes.

“The true value, however, will be seen in how Sovereign will now be able to invest the capital and human resources that they’ve freed up into their core business, especially increasing production,” says Energy Partners asset and service manager Coenrad Ehlers.

“Energy Partners managed to reduce disruptions to the absolute minimum, taking into account that Sovereign produces six days a week, as well as the challenges of transferring loads from the old plant to the new,” adds Sovereign engineering manager Stephan Oosthuizen.

The new system features a three-stage ammonia refrigeration process with evaporative condensers and water-based oil cooling.

Several elements have been included to boost operational efficiency and sustainability, including a master control system that optimises the entire refrigeration process, compressors and condensers that are equipped with variable speed drives for superior energy management, as well as a heat reclaim mechanism that uses waste heat to preheat water, reducing boiler fuel use. 

Secure remote access to the plant and a 24/7 monitoring service enable a proactive approach to sustaining plant efficiency and allow for a proactive approach to operation and maintenance. 

“You can't manage what you can’t measure, and Energy Partners’ monitoring of the plant enables us to quickly identify areas for improvement in our process,” Oosthuizen asserts.

To combat noise pollution, the plant room has been constructed with double brick walls, rock wool ceilings and specialised acoustic doors. Other noise reduction strategies include strategically placed condensers and noise attenuator filters in the ventilation system.

Designed for future scalability, the system can adapt to increasing cooling demands, and has already achieved baseline energy savings of 20%, thanks to Energy Partners’ digital twin technology, which is vital given the site’s electricity constraints.

“It’s very rewarding that Sovereign have chosen to leverage Energy Partners’ CaaS model for a second time, having already seen its value at their Kariega site. The ongoing partnership between our companies shows an unwavering commitment to seeking out and employing innovative, sustainable solutions. We look forward to the next chapter,” Ehlers concludes.