Energy : The power of
benchmarking and optimising

Implementing strategies for continual improvement is great for your business and the environment. We make sure your customers know and have confidence in these wonderful stories. Through our work with a wide range of primary industry sectors, Agrilink has built up a unique and detailed knowledge of all resource inputs into these sectors, including energy. Our databases are full of insights that we can use to drive ground-up improvements to help the operations of individual businesses and, ultimately, the entire sector.

Improving efficiency

For many primary sectors, energy represents less than 5% of their operating expenses, so it’s often low on the priority list. But any improvements directly impact on the bottom line, so it makes sense to identify no-cost and low-cost improvements. What’s more, the market expects companies to seek continual improvement across all areas, including energy use.

At Agrilink, we help individual growers to set their energy-management policies and document their performance for assurance schemes such as TESCO’S Nature’s Choice and Waitrose LEAF.

Some sectors have a much larger energy component than others. Greenhouses are an obvious example and we’ve worked with this sector to document their energy use and assist them through the carbon Emissions Trading Scheme.

We work with industry groups like Sustainable Winegrowing NZ, to deliver annual individualised tracking and benchmarking reports to more than 1000 growers on their energy, water and agrichemical use.

For wineries we’ve adapted the Californian BEST Winery tool so New Zealand wineries can monitor their energy performance against identical businesses. Their results are incorporated into annual benchmarking reports. These help identify improvement opportunities, through use of the NZ BEST Winery tool, together with six-monthly energy themes, factsheets, FAQs, checklists and workshops.

Through the Sustainability Dashboard Project these annual reports for vineyards and wineries will become interactive and much closer to real-time tracking and benchmarking.

When evaluating energy use from a full life-cycle perspective, it’s essential to understand how much energy it takes to deliver each useable unit of energy. How much energy does it take to extract, process and transport fuel to the engine? This is sometimes referred to as well-to-wheel analysis, embodied energy, or primary energy. Agrilink has documented the total primary energy and life cycle greenhouse gas emission factors [link to document] for fuel and electricity. We’ve been updating these energy values and emission factors annually since 2005.

Primary energy is a particularly important concept in biofuel analysis. Does it take more energy to make and deliver a litre of biofuel than is available in the finished product? We’ve been involved in a number of these life-cycle studies, including biodiesel from tallow, bioethanol from Brazilian sugarcane, farm scale biogas plants from kiwifruit and raupo.

These primary energy values are used in life cycle studies, most notably as the basis to debunk the Food Miles myth.

Power in numbers: Benchmarking energy opens the door to energy savings