Australian meat processor receives funding to convert to geothermal heat

Australian meat processor receives funding to convert to geothermal heat Latrobe Valley, Victoria, Australia (source: flickr/ yewenyi, creative commons)
Carlo Cariaga 29 Aug 2022

Hardwick Processors in Victoria, Australia has received funding to shift their meat processing plant's heating supply from natural gas to geothermal via heat pumps.

Hardwick Processors (Hardwick), a meat processing company based in Victoria, Australia, has received $838,000 in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to convert their heating system from natural gas to geothermal. The funding will go towards the construction of a 1-MW thermal heat pump and the upgrading of the electrical system of the company’s meat processing plant.

The awarding of the grant follows the selection of Hardwick in 2019 as a candidate for a feasibility study in the use of geothermal heat pumps to supply process heat. The study was funded by ARENA and led by the Australian Alliance for Energy Productivity (A2EP). The results of the study showed that running smaller heat pumps and storing the hot water in thermal tanks was the most efficient method of producing process heat for application that require temperatures if around 80 degrees Celsius.

Process heat from the heat pumps will help Hardwick improve the shelf life of their products, making them more readily available to export markets. The heat pumps will reduce the plant’s reliance on natural gas by 75%. However, the electrical system upgrade will also allow the facility yo receive electricity required for operation from the Powercor network.

“The project offers us the opportunity to trial how using heat pumps can reduce reliance on natural gas and prove to the industry that this is technically and economically feasible and a viable solution to dramatically reduce emissions at their facilities. commented ARENA CEO Darren Miller.

“Hardwick Processors is at the forefront of helping to reduce emissions in the meat processing industry. Having already installed onsite solar PV and battery, it is now able to demonstrate how the hot water demand of industrial processing can be managed with the addition of heat pumps and use of thermal energy,” Miller added.